Scientific Creativity as Blind Variation

Dean Keith Simonton

in Psychology of Science

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199753628
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950027 | DOI:
Scientific Creativity as Blind Variation

Show Summary Details


Donald Campbell proposed that scientific creativity and discovery could be best understood as entailing blind variation and selective retention (BVSR). This proposal is developed by defining blindness in terms of the magnitude of decoupling between variant probabilities and their corresponding utilities. The selection part of BVSR is then defined according to whether variant selection is simultaneous or sequential and external or internal. These definitions provide the basis for identification criteria that can be applied to determine where ideational variation falls on the blind-sighted continuum. Explicit blindness can be obtained by systematic or stochastic combinatorial procedures, whereas implicit blindness becomes apparent when variations have certain properties of blindness or are generated by processes that should yield blindness. The chapter discusses the most common criticisms of BVSR, some that arise from misunderstandings and others that are rooted in misconceptions. The chapter concludes by discussing BVSR in terms of a three-criteria definition of creative ideas.

Keywords: creativity; blind variation and selective retention; blind-sighted continuum; explicit blindness; implicit blindness; creative ideas

Chapter.  12943 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.