An environmental approach to creativity

Where good ideas come from – and what happens when ideas have sex!

What’s relevant to a society is how well people are communicating their ideas, and how well they’re cooperating, not how clever the individuals are.
Matt Ridley

An idea is a network at the most elemental level. An idea — a new idea — is a new network of neurons firing in sync with each other inside your brain. It’s a new configuration that has never formed before. And the question is: how do you get your brain into environments where these new networks are going to be more likely to form? And it turns out that, in fact, the kind of network patterns of the outside world mimic a lot of the network patterns of the internal world of the human brain.
Steven Johnson

Watch these TED Talks which propose some interesting ideas about the environmental influences on ideas, creativity, and innovation – one of which is a good reason for having a coffee – one of my other favourite activities! Author Steven Johnson takes us on a tour past some historic events to explain how the environments that we create and surround ourselves with are very important in forming the ideas and innovations that we come up with.


I’m not sure whether I think Steven Johnson puts enough emphasis on the interaction between people and their environments yet, but it is an enjoyable and interesting watch nonetheless. One person who does emphasise interaction and in particular ‘exchange’ is Matt Ridley. He explains how cultural evolution, innovation and creativity are like biological evolution in the sense that they share exchange – in short, ideas have sex! To my liking his focus very much emphasises interaction in the social environment and, again, like Steven Johnson, not enough yet on the interaction between people and their environments in general.


Anyway, I’m off to the coffeehouse now!

Gert-Jan Pepping is an Associate Professor in Human Movement at the School of Behavioural and Health Sciences of AUstralian Catholic University, Brisbane, Australia.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Ecological Psychology, My own research, Science General

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: