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Title: Flow in visual creativity
Author: Cseh, Genevieve
ISNI:       0000 0004 5350 5053
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2014
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Although flow theory (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975; being 'in the zone') arose from early observations of artists, experimental research of creative flow is lacking, particularly in the visual arts. Assumptions are made about the universality of flow in all domains; however creativity is a uniquely complex domain which may have different antecedents, experiences, and consequences related to flow. This thesis focuses on potential mechanisms and effects of feedback/goal ambiguity and the sense of control that are thought essential to flow but which have unclear relationships to creativity. Using an experimental simulation of the visual creative process, the creative mental synthesis task (Finke & Slayton, 1988), four experiments were conducted. The role of perceptual feedback (sketching) to potentially disambiguate limited mental imagery feedback, or to offload cognitive load, was explored. Also inspected were the impacts of expectation-outcome incongruence, perceived task difficulty, and access to conscious choice vs. constraint. Results show sketching significantly increased flow by decreasing perceived task difficulty, though this effect was independent of cognitive load. Factors potentially influencing perceived difficulty were explored in relation to feedback ambiguity variables such as expectation-outcome discrepancies and mental imagery vividness. Choice did not significantly affect flow, but did decrease expectation-outcome discrepancy, suggesting total autonomy and control are not essential for flow development, but choice may affect how creative ideas are selected. These experimental results were compared with fine artist and commercial designer interviews, suggesting flow in visual creativity may require adaptability, tolerance of uncertainty, and interaction with perceptual feedback to resolve ambiguity. Flow was, as theorised, strongly related to affect improvement and self-rated creativity; however no direct links to higher externally-rated or objective creativity measures were found. Although flow does not directly enhance creativity, it and factors related to it (e.g., sketching, affect) may have an indirect motivating influence which could enhance mastery over time.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Creation (Literary ; artistic ; etc.) ; Creative thinking ; Inspiration