An ecological approach to creativity in making

Rob Withagen*, John van der Kamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Cognitive accounts of creativity generally assume that novel ideas originate in the head and precede the actual materialization of them. Over the last decades, this cognitive view has been criticized by, among others, proponents of a sociocultural perspective. In the present paper, we aim to further this critique by developing a genuine ecological approach to creativity in making. We do so by incorporating Ingold's theory of making into the ecological perspective that was initiated by Gibson. It is argued that because action is not preplanned but continuously unfolds over time, creativity is to be found in the process of making. Indeed, creativity can be conceived of as the discovery and creation of unconventional affordances (action possibilities) of objects and materials. Discussing the primacy of exploratory actions in this process, we argue that the concepts and research tools of ecological psychology may help to deepen the understanding of the creative process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalNew Ideas in Psychology
Early online date25 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • Affordances
  • Art
  • Creativity
  • Exploratory action
  • Information
  • Making


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