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Tan, A. G. (1999). Lay conceptions of creativity across cultures. In S. P. Loo (Ed.), Proceeds of the MERA-ERA Joint conference 1999: Educational Challenges in the New Millennium (pp. 772-779). Malacca, Malaysia.
There are many methods that psychologists can use to investigate a construct. Asking
people (either experts or laypersons) what they think about a construct, or finding the relation
of a construct to other constructs are two of the many methods. Some recent research has given
attention to the former approach, i.e. by discovering lay or people’s conceptions of a
phenomenon. These conceptions are also known as lay theories, subjective theories, everyday
theories, and naive theories. They provide additional explanations to present scientific findings
and can help understand phenomena within socio-cultural settings. In this paper, lay
conceptions of creativity across cultures (e.g., German, Japanese, Malaysians and Singaporean)
are presented. It is believed that every individual can be creative and every society has the
potential to nurture creative potentials of individuals. There are various types of creativity and
different degree of creativeness within a domain. By observing lay conceptions’ of creativity,
researchers and educators may propose suitable intervention programs that can help nurture
This paper was published in the 1999 Proceedings of the MERA-ERA Joint Conference held at Malacca, Malaysia from 1-3 December 1999
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