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Am Psychol. 2001 Apr;56(4):360-2.

What is the common thread of creativity? Its dialectical relation to intelligence and wisdom.

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  • 1Yale University, Yale Center for the Psychology of Abilities, Competencies, and Expertise, 340 Edwards Street, P.O. Box 208358, New Haven, CT 06520-8358, USA.


Creativity refers to the potential to produce novel ideas that are task-appropriate and high in quality. Creativity in a societal context is best understood in terms of a dialectical relation to intelligence and wisdom. In particular, intelligence forms the thesis of such a dialectic. Intelligence largely is used to advance existing societal agendas. Creativity forms the antithesis of the dialectic, questioning and often opposing societal agendas, as well as proposing new ones. Wisdom forms the synthesis of the dialectic, balancing the old with the new. Wise people recognize the need to balance intelligence with creativity to achieve both stability and change within a societal context.

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