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How do we stimulate creativity?

To thrive in today's economy and the workforce of the future, individuals need creativity and problem‐solving skills. Emotion skills have been increasingly discussed as well, with companies listing emotional intelligence as one of the top skills needed for professional success. The present paper describes a course designed to teach professional adults two sets of creativity skills (problem finding and idea generation) and two sets of emotional intelligence skills (using emotions to facilitate thinking and understanding emotions) using visual art as a medium. The course consisted of eight, 60‐min sessions in which professional adults participated in art observation and art engagement activities. Fifty‐six professional adults completed measures of creative abilities and emotional intelligence skills in a pretest, posttest, and 2‐month follow‐up design. Participants who engaged in the course showed significant gains in the originality of their ideas on divergent thinking and problem construction tasks, as well as their self‐reported creative behavior compared with controls. No significant changes in emotion understanding were detected. We discuss the course's distinct value to creativity and emotion skills training research.

Maliakkal, N. T., Hoffmann, J.D., Ivcevic, Z. & Brackett, M.A. (2017). An art-based workshop for families: Learning emotion skills and choosing creativity. International Journal of Creativity and Problem Solving. 27(1), 45-60.

This paper discusses the development and implementation of a workshop designed for families to teach emotional intelligence skills (understanding emotions and regulating emotions) and creativity skills (idea generation and idea evaluation), using the arts as a medium (visual art, movement, and writing). Parents and children worked to practice and develop these skills together as a family. Forty-three participants (12 families, 21 children and 22 adults) attended the workshop. After six, 90-minute sessions, parents and children expressed high satisfaction with their overall workshop experience and a desire to continue learning emotion and creativity skills through similar educational opportunities. This workshop created a space in which families could support each other's emotional development and creative skill, strengthen their relationships, and create art together.

Maliakkal, N., Hoffmann, J. D., Ivcevic, Z. & Brackett, M. A. (2016). Teaching emotion and creativity skills through art: A workshop for adolescents. International Journal of Creativity and Problem Solving. 26(1), 69-83.

A workshop for adolescents was developed to teach emotional intelligence skills (using emotion to facilitate thought and understanding emotions) and creativity skills (idea generation and idea evaluation), using visual art as a medium. Art-based activities in the workshop were specially designed to respond to developmental needs in adolescence with the focus on identity development. Thirty-seven adolescents, ages 13-18 years, attended the six-session workshop, held at the Botín Foundation in Santander, Spain. After participating in the workshop, adolescents showed a more positive attitude towards changing directions or techniques when working on tasks requiring creativity and a greater belief that creativity can be improved through practice and training. Furthermore, adolescents reported higher ability to use metaphors and symbols in describing emotions and reported higher ability to acknowledge thoughts and feelings while observing a piece of artwork. Finally, they expressed high satisfaction with the workshop experience.

Ivcevic, Z., Maliakkal, N., & The Botin Foundation (2016). Teaching emotion and creativity skills through the arts. In E. Gokcigdem (Ed.), Fostering empathy through museums (pp. 1-21). Washington, DC: Rowman & Littlefield.

This chapter describes a collaboration between the Botin Foundation and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence aimed to teach emotion and creativity skills to children, adolescents, and adults, with the ultimate goal of creating a more empathetic, compassionate and innovative community. First, we describe the rationale for the educational programs at the Botin Foundation and the Botin Center that is based in the theory of emotional intelligence as a set of abilities that are important for successful self-understanding and relationship success alike. Then, we describe school-based and art center educational programs that use the arts as a vehicle to teach emotion skills.  Examples are presented of educational activities, along with data showing their effectiveness in building emotion skills.

Ebert, M., Hoffmann, J. D., Ivcevic, Z., Phan, C., & Brackett, M. A. (2015). Creativity, emotion, and art: Development and initial evaluation of a workshop for professional adults. International Journal of Creativity and Problem Solving, 25, 47-59.

A workshop was designed to teach professional adults a set of creativity (problem finding and idea generation) and emotional intelligence (using emotions to facilitate thinking and understanding emotions) skills through engagement with the visual arts. Skills were developed and practiced over eight sessions and applied to real-life problems identified by participants. After participating in the workshop, participants showed more positive attitudes towards creativity, emotional intelligence, and art appreciation. Participants reported higher self-perceived creative and emotion skills and expressed high satisfaction with the workshop.

This paper reports on the development and initial validation of a workshop teaching emotion skills (perceiving, using and understanding emotions) and creativity skills (problem finding and idea generation) through engagement with the visual arts to children ages 6-12 years old. After completing the six-session workshop, children showed greater knowledge of how emotions can be used to facilitate thinking and behavior in everyday life scenarios, and reported being less likely to settle on the first idea when making art. Children positively evaluated their experiences in the workshop and indicated interest in similar art-based learning opportunities in the future.

Ivcevic, Z., Hoffmann, J. D., Brackett, M. A., & Botin Foundation (2014). Emotions, creativity, and the arts. In B. Heys (Ed.), Arts and emotions: Nurturing our creative potential (pp. 6-23). Santander, Spain: Botin Foundation.

This chapter discusses the emotionally complex processes important for creativity and describes the social function he Arts can play in developing creativity. It is asserted that for increases in creative achievement to happen two things are necessary: people need to have the attitude of openness (looking at the world with interest and receptivity) and that they need to develop skills to manage the emotions that inevitably accompany creative work. First, different kinds of creativity are discussed; then the role of emotions in the creative process is examined, and finally the chapter proposes how the Arts can be a medium through which people can learn to use and manage their emotions to foster daily creativity. At the end, this chapter explains how these approaches will be applied in the programmes for the development of creativity through the arts which will be run at the Botín Centre in Santander.