Posted by: Xhyra Graf | 18 January 2007

Model 4

The Darwinian System Model

This model is the result of combining two simpler models–Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model (Feldman, 1994) with Simonton’s darwinian model (Simonton, 1999; Bentley, 1999; Greene, Journal, Sept. 1999). It is a matrix having four darwinian operators as column titles–variation, combination, selection, and reproduction, and having four systems levels of society as row titles–person, work, field, and domain.

As there are too many types of creative “work” to generalize usefully across, that row is eliminated in practice, leaving four columns by three rows, or twelve boxes in the final matrix. Characteristics of that level (row) that foster the creative function (column) are filled in.

This is useful as it moves us beyond thinking only that traits of individual persons or the interiors of their minds count for being creative.

Traits of fields of people who evaluate, criticize, and fund domains of knowledge and practice as well as traits of the knowledge itself of a domain can foster or hinder creativity. Also, it is not “creativity” in general that is fostered in this model for four particular functions of being creative: generating variants, combining variants, selecting “winning” variant combinations, and reproducing those winning combinations.

This simultaneous movement of pluralizing “the creator” and “creation process” contents is a simple but immensely important improvement in creativity research overall.

I built this matrix then searched through 50 recent creativity books for traits appropriate for each of its twelve boxes.


  1. […] Secondary*: Models 4, 10 & 14 […]

  2. […] Catalog: 4 – Darwinian Systems Blend: 10 – Paradox Balancing Social: 17 – Space Sharing (or Collaboration) System: 23 – Adjacent Beyond Purity: 25 – Subcreations There are also the portions of this kind of practice that are illustrative of concepts of Extended Mind [Andy Clark] and Enactive Perception [Alva Noë].  […]