The main theories of Creativity

Investment Theory of Creativity1

In theory, good investors are creative people that generate novel ideas that initially look unorthodox. According to this theory, investors seem to buy low at first, but when their ideas gain some acceptance and become more popular, they ‘sell high’, while moving on to their next extra ordinary idea. Creativity is regarded as investing. People tend to develop skills and attitude towards life that differentiate those who want to do things their own way. Such attitudes can be:

  • Redefine problem in original ways
  • Take risks that are rational
  • Promote ideas that are not accepted at first
  • Be persistent whatever the obstacles
  • Examine all possible solutions

Propulsion Theory of Creative Contributions1
There are many types of creative contributions and even more ways that those can be delineated. Some kinds of contributions are based on an existing solution. These concern either a conceptual replication, where the idea is actually repeated with a slight variation from what has been done before, or a redefinition of a creative idea so that an idea that was originally perceived for one purpose can be used for another one. Other types of contributions refer to new directions of a previous work. This means that these contributions move a field in a different direction from the one that they have been moving. Of course, this movement entails the risk of turning other people’s original work into irrelevant.

Theory of Play in Development: Creativity and Imagination
According to Vygotsky’s theory focusing on building up creativity in childhood, a creative idea is any activity from which something new can rise. The significant distinction between a reproductive activity, that involves a repetition of what already exists, and a combinatorial or creative activity, where something new is created. This creative activity is imagination and servers as an important factor of cultural life. However, imagination is an essential part of all thought, as it is something that is constantly ‘filled-in’ with experiences and knowledge. Besides, there is realistic thinking in imagination and, according to Vygotsky, there is no accurate cognition of reality without an element of imagination’.2


Based on Vygotsky’s theory, creative imagination derives from childhood and, more specifically, in children’s play. Play is considered to be a creative activity where human experience is reconstructed to produce new realities, whereas imaginative play appears as an integral part of an experience through multiple aspects.3


  1. Sternberg, R.J., The Investment Theory of Creativity and the Propulsion Theory of Creative Contributions, retrieved from
  2. Nilsson, M. & Ferholt, B. (2014). Vygotsky’s theories of play, imagination and creativity in current practice: Gunilla Lundqvist’s ‘creative pedagogy of play’ in U.S. kindergartens and Swedish Reggio-Emilia inspired preschool, retrieved from
  3. Penfold, L. (2018, April 12). Vygotsky on collective activity, retrieved from