Understanding Creativity #2: The Four (or six) P’s of Creativity

This article is part of a series of short articles surrounding the study of creativity and the ways the relevant theories can be interpreted to understand and enhance our own creativity. The theories and ideas discussed are presented in no particular order and merely provide a basic grounding in the core concepts on which to build upon.

The Four (or six) P’s

In creativity research you will often come across what are referred to as the “P’s” of creativity.  These refer to the various areas where we can judge presence of creativity. The original four, proposed by Mel Rhodes in 1961, were: Person (The personal knowledge and experiences of the creative person), Product (the end product), Process (the workflows that lead to outcomes recognised as creative) and Place (the environment in which creative acts are undertaken). R. J. Sternberg added a further two important P’s: Persuasion (Motives for attempting to be creative) and Potential (The potential for growth and expansion of ideas and outcomes). Whilst some argue that there are many more P’s that should be included in this list these are the six that are most salient for the majority of research. 

It is therefore important to understand the relevance of the P’s as they allow researchers to quickly focus their work and categorise their findings to a particular area. 


How is this useful?

By being aware of the P’s it becomes possible to more precisely analyse your own creative workflow and evaluate where changes could be made to enhance your creativity. Research has shown, for example, that certain environments are more conducive to creative thinking and application; therefore maybe you too could get a creative boost by moving your workspace to a more or less stimulating environment depending on your working style. A number of process theories of creativity also suggest that creativity is a circular process that involves periods of: preparation, incubation, illumination and verification. If you constantly find yourself reaching dead ends creatively  perhaps first consider if you are possibly missing a step in your creative process that is causing these dead ends. Equally if you don’t feel you have a any particular process perhaps try and follow a process to see if it helps increase your output or helps to generate more effective ideas than you normally do.


Check back soon for future instalments in this series.