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Inspiration denotes a mundane experience that has a long history of being reflected upon and aspired to. However, due to its complexity and mystical associations, it has received until now little scientific attention. When studied empirically, this phenomenon is typically understood as a cognitive or motivational process, one that involves both a receptive (inspired by) and agentic (inspired to) dimension. Its relation to creativity in particular has been of considerable interest, with different authors portraying inspiration as either an antecedent or consequence of getting creative ideas. Sociocultural psychology, for example, understands inspiration as a state of active receptivity, one in which the person is animated to pursue and explore the possible. This entry starts with the definition of inspiration and its history, before moving on to summarizing empirical research in this area. It focuses in particular on the relation between inspiration, creativity, and the possible within a sociocultural framework. Some reflections on how to cultivate inspiration or, rather, the conditions that foster it, are offered towards the end.


  • Inspiration
  • Inspired by
  • Inspired to
  • Creativity
  • Possible
  • Sociocultural psychology

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Correspondence to Vlad Petre Glăveanu .

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Glăveanu, V.P. (2019). Inspiration. In: The Palgrave Encyclopedia of the Possible. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-98390-5

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-98390-5

  • eBook Packages: Springer Reference Behavioral Science and PsychologyReference Module Humanities and Social Sciences

Chapter History

  1. Latest

    13 September 2022


  2. Inspiration
    28 May 2020


  3. Inspiration
    12 June 2019


  4. Original

    23 March 2019