The 1950 speech that started creativity research

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Very rarely do we come across a specific moment where we can see an entirely new field of research begin.

However, on Sep 2-8, 1950, Joy Paul Guilford gave an impassioned speech as new president of the American Psychological Association where he introduced the need for more formal research into the previously vague field of creativity.

It was this speech which kickstarted the field of creativity research, pioneered by himself and other researchers like Paul Torrance, and led us to the world where we now have a much better understanding of what is happening when we have ideas.

In this podcast, I read the entire Journal article of his 1950s speech, titled “Creativity“, so you can see where it all got started.

I warn you, it is nearly an hour long.

And some of the thoughts in it are very much of the time period he was in (for example, listen to how often Guilford mentions “he” and “him” instead of “she”…).

But it is fascinating to see how even back then, some of the fundamental ideas and challenges which still are affecting creativity today were already being talked about, like how school systems train children to give the correct answers, or even how computers will automate human thinking. Although these computers were so new at the time that Guilford refers to them as remarkable new thinking machines.

So if you want to be taken back in time to where it all started, get a nice warm cup of tea, put on your headphones, and watch the video of me reading it (above), or listen to the podcast here.

Enjoy.

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