In a recent review of research on creativity, Sternberg and Lubart (1996) found that most approaches to the topic have been unidimensional, choosing to focus on one or another aspect of creativity to the neglect of others. This tendency to isolate a single dimension of the topic has had the effect of distorting the findings of research; a single feature (say, cognitive processes) is taken to be the whole of creativity, while other equally important features (say, motivation or cultural context) are ignored (Sternberg & Lubart, 1996). Along with a number of others (e.g., Csikszentmihalyi, 1988a, 1988b; Feldhusen & Goh, 1995; Feldman, 1990; Gardner, 1993; Simonton, 1988), Sternberg and Lubart (1996) recommend a multidimensional approach to the study of creativity:
We believe that confluence theories offer a relatively newer and more promising approach to the study of creativity. They … are based in psychological theory and are susceptible to experimental test; they use concepts from the mainstream of psychological theory and research; they do not attempt to view creativity as a special case of ordinary representation and process; and, perhaps most important, they are multidisciplinary, calling upon the various aspects of psychology, (p. 686)
This chapter will follow the recent trend toward conceptualizing creativity as a multidimensional construct, and creative accomplishment as representing the interaction or confluence among these dimensions (Gardner, 1983/1993, 1988, 1989; Sternberg & Lubart, 1996).