The evolutionary roots of creativity : mechanisms and motivations
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We consider the evolution of cognition and the emergence of creative behaviour, in relation to vocal communication. We address two key questions: (i) what cognitive and/or social mechanisms have evolved that afford aspects of creativity?; (ii) has natural and/or sexual selection favoured human behaviours considered ‘creative’? This entails analysis of ‘creativity’, an imprecise construct: comparable properties in non-humans differ in magnitude and teleology from generally agreed human creativity. We then address two apparent problems: (i) the difference between merely novel productions and ‘creative’ ones; (ii) the emergence of creative behaviour in spite of high cost: does it fit the idea that females choose a male who succeeds in spite of a handicap (costly ornament); or that creative males capable of producing a large and complex song repertoire grew up under favourable conditions; or a demonstration of generally beneficial heightened reasoning capacity; or an opportunity to continually reinforce social bonding through changing communication tropes; or something else? We illustrate and support our argument by reference to whale and bird song; these independently evolved biological signal mechanisms objectively share surface properties with human behaviours generally called ‘creative’. Studying them may elucidate mechanisms underlying human creativity; we outline a research programme to do so.
Wiggins , G A , Tyack , P L , Scharff , C & Rohrmeier , M 2015 , ' The evolutionary roots of creativity : mechanisms and motivations ' Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences , vol 370 , no. 1664 . DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0099
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences
Copyright 2015. The Author(s). Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved. This is the accepted manuscript of an article originally submitted to the Philosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences- The evolutionary roots of creativity: mechanisms and motivations Wiggins, G. A., Tyack, P. L., Scharff, C. & Rohrmeier, M. Mar 2015 In : Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences. 370, 1664,available from http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/370/1664/20140099
Funding: MASTS pooling initiative (The Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland). MASTS is funded by the Scottish Funding Council (grant reference HR09011) and contributing institutions.
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