Are creatives born or made?

Prof. Dean Keith Simonton

What makes someone a creative genius? Dean Keith Simonton, the godfather of creativity, will share his decades of research on how our genes and our environment contribute to everyday creativity and the emergence of genius.

Learn about this Garden Talk

Psychologists usually define creativity as the capacity to produce ideas that are both original and workable. In other words, creativity involves being able to solve problems by sifting through ideas to come up with novel solutions. We are all creative in our everyday lives, but genius creativity, as demonstrated by great artists and innovators, is the exception rather than the rule.

From Galileo to Einstein, Leonardo di Vinci to Nietzsche, creativity has moved human civilisation forward. But being truly innovative involves taking huge risks, challenging accepted ways of thinking and accepting constant failure. And for some, there is a fine line between being a creative genius and mental illness.

In this Fireside Conversation, Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Dean Keith Simonton will explain how our genes play a role in how creative we are, and will share how environmental factors such as subjecting people to experiences where social norms and natural laws are violated can spark more open-mindedness and creativity. Drawing on decades of research, the godfather of creativity, will show how there is a strong association between mental illness and creativity and will answer the fundamental question: is creative genius born or made?

Talk outline


50 minutes

What to expect

30 minute talk

20 minute Member Q&A

About the Fellow

Prof. Dean Keith Simonton

Dean Keith Simonton, the godfather of creativity, is the Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California Davis.

Creativity Unlocked Collection

Human ingenuity and inventiveness has continually moved our world forward. From beautiful art works to works of literature, space shuttles to scientific leaps forward, at the heart of progress and change is a spark of creativity.