Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

The evolutionary roots of creativity: mechanisms and motivations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

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.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences
Volume370
Issue number1664
Early online date2 Feb 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015

    Research areas

  • Creativity, Vocal communication, Music, Computational modelling, Information theory

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Foraging rates of ram-filtering North Atlantic right whales

    van der Hoop, J. M., Nousek-McGregor, A. E., Nowacek, D. P., Parks, S. E., Tyack, P. & Madsen, P. T., 11 May 2019, (Accepted/In press) In : Functional Ecology. In press

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Northern bottlenose whales in a pristine environment respond strongly to close and distant navy sonar signals

    Wensveen, P. J., Isojunno, S., Hansen, R. R., Von Benda-beckmann, A. M., Kleivane, L., Van Ijsselmuide, S., Lam, F. A., Kvadsheim, P. H., Deruiter, S. L., Curé, C., Narazaki, T., Tyack, P. L. & Miller, P. J. O., 20 Mar 2019, In : Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 286, 1899, 10 p., 20182592.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Diving behavior and fine-scale kinematics of free-ranging Risso’s dolphins foraging in shallow and deep-water habitats

    Arranz, P., Benoit-Bird, K., Friedlaender, A. S., Hazen, E. L., Goldbogen, J. A., Stimpert, A. K., De Ruiter, S. L., Calambokidis, J., Southall, B., Fahlman, A. & Tyack, P. L., 12 Mar 2019, In : Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 7, 15 p., 53.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Marine mammal noise exposure criteria: updated scientific recommendations for residual hearing effects

    Southall, B. L., Finneran, J. J., Reichmuth, C., Nachtigall, P. E., Ketten, D. R., Bowles, A. E., Ellison, W. T., Nowacek, D. P. & Tyack, P. L., 11 Mar 2019, In : Aquatic Mammals. 45, 2, p. 125-232

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Understanding the population consequences of disturbance

    Pirotta, E., Booth, C. G., Costa, D. P., Fleishman, E., Kraus, S. D., Lusseau, D., Moretti, D., New, L. F., Schick, R. S., Schwarz, L. K., Simmons, S. E., Thomas, L., Tyack, P. L., Weise, M. J., Wells, R. S. & Harwood, J., 12 Sep 2018, In : Ecology and Evolution. Early View, 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Related by journal

  1. Parasitic cuckoo catfish exploit parental responses to lost offspring

    Polačik, M., Reichard, M., Smith, C. & Blažek, R., Apr 2019, In : Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences. Forthcoming

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Linking personality and cognition: a meta-analysis

    Dougherty, L. R. & Guillette, L. M., 26 Sep 2018, In : Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences. 373, 1756, 12 p., 20170282.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  3. Stress hormones, social associations and song learning in zebra finches

    Boogert, N. J., Lachlan, R. F., Spencer, K. A., Templeton, C. N. & Farine, D. R., 26 Sep 2018, In : Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences. 373, 1756, 9 p., 20170290.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Tool Use as Adaptation

    Biro, D. (ed.), Haslam, M. (ed.) & Rutz, C. (ed.), 2013, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences, 368, 1630.

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationSpecial issue

Related by journal

  1. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences (Journal)

    Christian Rutz (Editor)
    20122013

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  2. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B (Journal)

    Will Cresswell (Member of editorial board)
    20092014

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  3. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences (Journal)

    Tanja van Mourik (Member of editorial board)
    2009

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  4. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences (Journal)

    Andrew Whiten (Member of editorial board)
    2008 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

ID: 165196833