Human creativity: Unconventional thinking “outside the box”

Creativity has many sides. There is more to it than a beautiful painting in a gallery or an exciting story in a good book to testify to the creative power of humans. Creative thinking and working are evident in many other areas of life.


Creativity, simply put, is an original way of thinking that is different from learned behavior patterns. It requires the ability to question old ideas and the courage to try out new ways. Thinking “outside-the-box” is a foundation stone for every invention or innovation. It is what has made it possible for humans to achieve the level of development they have today. Many people think that creativity is exclusively the realm of advertising agencies and research institutions, but in fact, any brain has the capability to think creatively.


How does creative thinking work?

Have you ever had the experience where you are mulling over a problem and cannot find any suitable solution? Then, suddenly at some random point when you are doing something completely different, like relaxing or even sleeping, you get a creative “flash of inspiration” that shows you a completely different way to approach your problem.

Scientists have observed that, before engaging in creative thinking, the brain activity associated with visual processing, shuts down for 300 milliseconds. Supposedly other stimuli are meant to be suppressed, like when we close our eyes or stare off into space. This allows new, completely unbiased ideas to arise. Scientists have also shown that acoustic stimuli, such as background noises at a medium sound level, can promote creative thinking. Complete stillness can be as counterproductive as loud noise. Does this mean that any of us are potentially a creative super brain? Basically, anyone can be creative, and there are many techniques to increase creativity and to train creative thinking processes. Practice makes perfect. In other words, we can all work on being (more) creative. But are there other requirements that explain why some people have more creative potential from the beginning than others?


Creativity and intelligence

According to studies, there seems to be at least a link between a person’s intelligence and their ability to think creatively. But what does this tell us about Artificial Intelligence? Can an algorithm be creative?

Artificial intelligence, or AI for short, is able to create advertising commercials, write poetry and even paint paintings. At first glance, these results often cannot even be distinguished from human productions. However, to create these pictures or texts, an immense lake of data is required in order to first make the algorithm ‘feel’ what appeals to humans. Basically, the development of Artificial Intelligence is ultimately a form of human creativity as well.

While fears that AI will soon replace every creative person, making them unemployed, are basically groundless, the future use of Artificial Intelligence to assist us in our daily work and to help us optimize creative processes can certainly be reasonable.