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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: June 2012

42 - Modes of Expertise in Creative Thinking: Evidence from Case Studies



The study of expertise has in the last several decades become an area of interest to scholars from a broad range of disciplines. In much of the research literature, expertise is taken to mean consistent superior performance, resulting from deliberate practice (Ericsson, 1996, 1998, Chapter 38). Deliberate practice is the intentional repeated execution, usually under the instruction of a coach, of skills directly relevant to improving the performance in question. The study of expertise can be traced in psychology to de Groot's (1965) study of chess playing, although expertise has been of interest to psychologists since the beginning of scientific psychology (see Shiffrin, 1996, Feltovich, Prietula, & Ericsson, Chapter 4). Examination of the development and functioning of expertise now encompasses a wide range of domains, including medical diagnosis; problem solving in physics; radiologists' skill in reading X-rays; swimming, tennis, soccer, and other athletic domains; performance of classical music; and the perhaps unlikely domain of memory span for digits (see chapters in Ericsson, 1996, and in this volume, especially those in Section V, for representative studies and reviews).

The present chapter examines the question of whether expertise plays a role in creativity, where creativity is defined as the goal-directed production of novelty (Weisberg, 1993). A creative product (an innovation) emerges when an individual intentionally produces something new in attempting to meet some goal (Weisberg, 1993, 1999, 2003). The creative process – or creative thinking – consists of the cognitive processes that play a role in production of innovations.

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