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  • Living reference work
  • © 2020

The Palgrave Encyclopedia of the Possible

Palgrave Macmillan


(view affiliations)
  • Discusses the work of eminent scholars who made important contributions to related fields, including Sartre, Heidegger, Bakhtin, Dewey, Piaget and Freud

  • Offers a timely and systematized summary of the vocabulary of an emerging, multidisciplinary area of research

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Table of contents (203 entries)

  1. A Propulsion Perspective on Creative Contributions

    • Robert J. Sternberg, James C. Kaufman, Jean E. Pretz
  2. Abduction

    • Gabriel Fortes
  3. Action Research

    • David Coghlan
  4. Adjacent Possible

    • Lennart Björneborn
  5. Adoption

    • Tatiana A. M. Valério, Maria C. D. P. Lyra
  6. Aesthetics

    • Maddalena Mazzocut-Mis
  7. Affordance

    • Vlad P. Glăveanu
  8. Alchemy

    • João R. R. Tenório da Silva, Cristiano B. Moura
  9. American Pragmatism

    • Steven Lybrand
  10. Analogy

    • Alessandro Antonietti
  11. Anticipation

    • Roberto Poli
  12. Anticipation Systems

    • Roberto Poli
  13. Antiquity

    • Miguel John Versluys, Ineke Sluiter
  14. Archetypes

    • Betty Sacco German
  15. Arts Education

    • Edward P. Clapp, Carolyn Kar Ning Ho
  16. Autonomy

    • Elisa Kupers, Linda Hendriks
  17. Avatars

    • Stéphanie Buisine, Jérôme Guegan
  18. Awe

    • Alice Chirico
  19. Cognitive Versatility

    • Leonie Baldacchino
  20. Coincidence

    • Bernard D. Beitman

About this book

The Palgrave Encyclopedia of the Possible represents a comprehensive resource for researchers and practitioners interested in an emerging multidisciplinary area within psychology and the social sciences: the study of how we engage with and cultivate the possible within self, society and culture.

Far from being opposed either to the actual or the real, the possible engages with concrete facts and experiences, with the result of transforming them. This encyclopedia examines the notion of the possible and the concepts and themes associated with it from standpoints within psychology, philosophy, sociology, neuroscience and logic, as well as multidisciplinary fields of research including anticipation studies, future studies, complexity theory and creativity research.

Presenting multiple perspectives on the possible, the authors consider the distinct social, cultural and psychological processes - e.g., imagination, counterfactual thinking, wonder, play, inspiration, and many others - that define our engagement with new possibilities in domains as diverse as the arts, architecture, design, education and business.

Advisory Board:

Alessandro Antonietti, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, Italy
Arjun Appadurai, New York University, USA
Baptiste Barbot, Pace University, USA
Ronald A. Beghetto, University of Connecticut, USA
Kerry Chappell, University of Exeter, UK
Edward Clapp, Harvard University, USAGiovanni Corazza, Bologna University, Italy
Andrea Gaggioli, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, Italy
Alex Gillespie, London School of Economics, UKMichael Hanchett Hanson, Columbia University, USA
Pernille Hviid, Copenhagen University, Denmark
Sandra Jovchelovitch, London School of Economics, UK
Maciej Karwowski, University of Wrocław, Poland
James C. Kaufman, University of Connecticut, USA
Todd Lubart, Paris Descartes University, France
Paul March, Oxford University, UK
Luis de Miranda, Uppsala University, Sweden
Alfonso Montuori, California Institute of Integral Studies, USA
Takeshi Okada, University of Tokyo, Japan
Jonathan Plucker, Johns Hopkins University, USA
Roberto Poli, University of Trento, Italy
Roni Reiter-Palmon, University of Nebraska Omaha, USA
Mark Runco, University of Georgia, USA
Joel Schmidt, University of Applied Management, Germany
Zayda Sierra, University of Antioquia, Colombia
Dean Keith Simonton, University of California, Davis, USA
Robert Sternberg, Cornell University, USA
Marie Taillard, ESCP Europe, UK
Min Tang, University of Applied Management, Germany
Frederic Vallee Tourangeau, Kingston University, UK
Jaan Valsiner, Aalborg University, Denmark
Jakob Waag Villadsen,  University of Copenhagen
Brady Wagoner, Aalborg University, DenmarkChristian Werner, Privatuniversität Schloss Seeburg, Austria
Tania Zittoun, University of Neuchatel, Switzerland

Senior Editors:

Sergio Agnoli, University of Bologna, Italy

Ross C. Anderson, University of Oregon, USA

Samira Bourgeois-Bougrine, Paris Descartes University, France

Martina Cabra, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Alice Chirico, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy

Gabriel Fortes Cavalcanti de Macêdo, Faculdade de Tecnologia de Alagoas, Brazil

Hana Hawlina, University of Neuchatel, Switzerland

Izabela Lebuda, University of Wroclaw, Poland

Serena Mastria, University of Bologna, Italy

Ingunn Johanne Ness, University of Bergen, Norway

Cathy Nicholson, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

Richard Randell, Webster University Geneva, Switzerland

Wendy Ross, Kingston University, UK

Ramiro Tau, University of Geneva, Switzerland


  • possibility studies
  • imagination
  • counterfactual thinking
  • perspective taking
  • empathy
  • social interactions
  • anticipation studies
  • future studies
  • complexity theory
  • creativity research
  • education
  • social change
  • culture
  • the virtual

Editors and Affiliations

  • Department of Psychology, Webster University, Geneva, Switzerland

    Vlad Petre Glăveanu

About the editor

Vlad Glăveanu, PhD, is Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Psychology and Counselling at Webster University Geneva, Associate Professor II at the Centre for the Science of Learning and Technology (SLATE), University of Bergen, Norway, founder and Director of the Webster Center for Creativity and Innovation (WCCI) and founder and President of the Possibility Studies Network (PSN). His work focuses on creativity, imagination, culture, collaboration, and societal challenges. He edited the Palgrave Handbook of Creativity and Culture (2016) and the Oxford Creativity Reader (2018), co-edited the Cambridge Handbook of Creativity Across Domains (2017) and the Oxford Handbook of Imagination and Culture (2017), authored The Possible: A Sociocultural Theory (Oxford University Press, 2020), Creativity: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2021),  and Wonder: The Extraordinary Power of an Ordinary Experience (Bloomsbury, 2020), and authored or co-authored more than 200 articles and book chapters in these areas. Dr. Glăveanu co-edits the book series Palgrave Studies in Creativity and Culture for Palgrave Macmillan and of the upcoming Cambridge Series on Possibility Studies with Cambridge University Press. He is editor of Europe’s Journal of Psychology (EJOP), an open-access peer-reviewed journal published by PsychOpen (Germany) as well as the editor of Possibility Studies and Society to be launched by Sage in 2023. In 2018, he received the Berlyne Award from the APA Division 10 for outstanding early career contributions to the field of aesthetics, creativity, and the arts. 

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