PS458      Half Unit
Creativity and Innovation

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Alex Gillespie QU.3.05


This course is available on the MSc in Health, Community and Development, MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology, MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology and MSc in Social and Public Communication. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is available on the MSc in Health, Community and Development, MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology, MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology and MSc in Social and Public Communication.


An undergraduate degree in a social science related discipline or equivalent.

Course content

This course examines creativity and innovation from a social psychological standpoint. The first part of the course will examine creativity, focusing on the social conditions which lead to new ideas. The second part of the course will examine the way in which new ideas and technologies are instituted and resisted. The final part of the course will focus on imagination, the future, and utopias. Guiding questions will be: How do new ideas and technologies come about? What social contexts are conducive to creativity and innovation? Can the resistance to innovation lead to innovation? What is the human imagination? Why do humans enjoy play, games and fiction? What leads to insightful problem solving? And, how do we know if something new is creative, productive or useful? Should researchers be describing the world as it is, or imagining how it could be?

The course will cover the social conditions (i.e., face-to-face or online, one-to-one or group, autocratic or democratic, specialisation or integration, etc.) conductive to creativity and innovation, including the social conditions for socialisation creative individuals and the social and institutional factors which enable productive novelty to be recognised and instituted. Specific topics will include: theories of creativity, play & imagination, insight and problem solving, identifying good ideas, cultural evolution, the resistance to innovation, user innovation, utopias and how people imagine the future.



10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 piece of coursework in the LT.

Indicative reading

Bauer, M. (2014). Atoms, Bytes and Genes: public resistance and techno-scientific responses. New York: Routledge. Bechtoldt, M.N., De Dreu, C.K., Nijstad, B.A., and Choi, H.S. (2010). Motivated information processing, social tuning, and group creativity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99(4), 622. Fioratou, E., and Crowley, S.J. (2009). Insightful thinking: cognitive dynamics and material artifacts. Pragmatics and Cognition, 17, 549-572. Isaksen, S.G., Dorval, K.B., and Treffinger, D.J. (2010). Creative approaches to problem solving: A framework for innovation and change (3rd Edt.). London: Sage Publications, Inc. Lillard, A. (2001). Pretend play as twin earth: A social-cognitive analysis. Developmental Review, 21(4), 495-531. Montuori, A. (2003). The complexity of improvisation and the improvisation of complexity: Social science, art and creativity. Human Relations, 56(2), 237-255. Maddux, W.W., and Galinsky, A.D. (2009). Cultural borders and mental barriers: The relationship between living abroad and creativity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(5), 1047-1061. Mainemelis, C. (2010). Stealing fire: Creative deviance in the evolution of new ideas. Academy of Management Review, 35(4), 558-578. Paulus, P.B. and Yang, H.C. (2000). Idea generation in groups: A basis for creativity in organisations. Organisational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes, 82(1), 76-87. Sawyer, R.K. (2006). Group creativity: Musical performance and collaboration. Psychology of Music, 34(2), 148-165.  Tadmor, C.T., Satterstrom, P., Jang, S., and Polzer, J.T. (2012). Beyond individual creativity: The superadditive benefits of multicultural experience for collective creativity in culturally diverse teams. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 43(3), 384-392. Tosey, P., Visser, M., and Saunders, M.N.K. (2012). The origins  and conceputalisation of 'triple-loop' learning: A critical review. Management Learning, 43(3), 291-307. Glaveanu, V., Gillespie, A. and Valsiner, J. (2014). Rethinking creativity: Contributions from social and cultural psychology. London: Routledge. Von Hippel, E. (2005). Democratizing innovation: the evolving phenomenon of user innovation. Cambridge MA: The MIT Press. Wright, E.O. (2010). Envisioning real utopias. London: Verso. Zittound, T. & Gillespie, A. (2015). Imagination in human and cultural development. London: Routledge.


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: Social Psychology

Total students 2014/15: 40

Average class size 2014/15: 15

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Lecture capture used 2014/15: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills