Mental Processes and Creativity Essay Paper

Mental Processes and Creativity

Intelligence is a term that has many contextual meanings that describe characteristics of the mind that connect skills like problem solving, reasoning, planning, understanding ideas, use of language, learning new things, and applying knowledge to dissimilar events and situations. Numerous psychologists and neurologists continue to debate the differing types of intelligence and the ways individuals combine them to form a unique (and individual) basis for the way they view the world (Garlick, 2010). Creative intelligence, for instance, is the way individuals perceive their universe — the world around them, and how that changes. Of course, because of the differences in the way people perceive their world, and the differences in the way and manner the external world is constructed, all individuals may be creative in one way or another. For instance, imagine how creative it was for our ancestors to discover that drying or smoking meat allowed them to store food for times when the hunt was unsuccessful; or the first combination of certain grains and water that fermented a beverage that could be stored for long periods of time? Contrast this with the leaps made by such geniuses as Albert Einstein in taking known knowledge and moving far beyond in scope and understanding. Clearly, these are very different types of intelligence, one not more or less important than the other, but all taking something and changing the manner in which it is explained and explored. The uniqueness of humans, then is that we all have the potential for creativity, and the expression of that creativity in a different combination of four basic styles: intuition, innovation, imagination and inspiration (Rowe, 2004).

Intuition- Intuition is a leap of consciousness, a way of putting disparate facts or actions together in a way that was relatively unplanned. It is more like “knowing” something all of a sudden that has been perplexing to an individual. Intuition is rarely planned, but might be through of as a way to move through towards a new solution that may or may not be possible. It is more like listening to a voice inside and finally allowing that voice through. Much of modern society tells us to quell those voices, but true intuition simply “knows.” For example, Albert Einstein once said, “I did not arrive at my understanding of the fundamental laws of the universe through my rational mind. The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you” (Rather, 2004).

Innovation- Typically, innovation refers to the creation of better or more efficient/effective products, processes, ideas, or issues. It differs from invention in that it usually means quite a significant change or a series of broad, incremental changes that almost result in paradigm shifts for both individuals and society. In business, for instance, innovation is a catalyst for growth — certainly we can see technological innovation over the past few decades causing MAJOR changes in society. In fact, society now expects innovation from its members — that leap into the void of change that has even resulted in an International Index of Innovation, ranking countries by innovation inputs and performance (Milken, 2010).

Imagination- The processes of creativity are important at all levels of society — from children to adults in every profession. It is this process that drives society; and imagination, or a way of creatively rethinking old solutions and issues is vital. Essentially, this is the ability to form mental images, sensation or concepts in a way that is not specifically tied to sight, hearing or other senses. It is about taking experience and knowledge and making sense of the world through learning and evocation of new thoughts, mental pictures, or perceptions of the world — whether individual or shared (Byrne, 2005).

Inspiration- Inspiration is a constant search for bursts of creativity and may be found through the influences of others (speakers, leaders, etc.) or through one’s own mental abilities. Depending on the paradigm used, inspiration is seen as either being divinely inspired or through unique processes that allow for a change in the usual mode of thinking or operation.

Five Forces Influence- In combination with the four creative styles, we also have five forces that influence these models of thinking and operation: education, training, influence from others, rewards and incentives, and personal experience. These five forces combine in unique and individual ways that allow each individual to expand the creative process in additional ways. As education, experience and training expand, for instance, new and innovative ways of solving issues become more apparent; as they do based on the influence of others (Malone-Cline, 2009).

Guiding Mental Models — It is a combination of innovation and inspiration, along with a healthy dose of training and education that tends to guide my own experiences in life and the workplace. Seemingly insurmountable problems are often more easily solved with more research and training, and then learning to “let go.” This letting go process has been quite difficult, but often then answers or additional creative ways of combining situations, products, or processes then simply “arrive” — seemingly out of nowhere. Not all, of course, are reasonable or even doable, but at least get the mind thinking about rethinking.

Conclusion — Compare and Contrast — Each of the four creative models is unique — yet similar in many ways. Each requires a different sort of mental leap, but are similar in that they require a leap of some type. The power of the models is that they can be used in combination to move ideas forward in a way that shares the idea of evolution and dissimilarity to become something new and innovative. When combined with the five forces there are seemingly endless ways of combining and recombining each model to innovate. However, because situations often differ so drastically — some qualitative, some quantitative, each individual brings a unique experience to the process. Innovation in physics, for instance, is different than innovation to survive in a hostile environment — yet both share the commonality of using processes and tools in different ways with the goal of coming up with something new and different.


Byrne, R. (2005). The Rational Imagination. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

DeVol, R. And Wong, P. (January 2010). Jobs for America. Milken Institute. Cited in:

Garlick, D. (2010). Intelligence and the Brain. Burbank, CA: Aesop Press.

Malone-Cline, J. (October 16, 2009). Mental Process. KnowEverything. Cited in:

Raether, E. (2004). Unleash Your Power Zone: Intuitive Intelligence. Keynote Resource. Cited in:

Rowe, A. (2004). Creative Intelligence. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Educational Press.

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