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The Wiley Handbook of Genius by Dean Keith Simonton

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3 Interviewing Highly Eminent Creators

Jeanne Nakamura and Jeff Fajans

Interviewing eminent creative individuals is an endeavor that sits at the intersection of three areas of work: creativity research, which spans multiple topics studied via diverse approaches; the study of eminence, which includes but is not limited to the realm of creativity; and interview research, one form of qualitative inquiry. Their intersection defines a relatively small space in terms of past research. Within psychology, for example, the dominant research paradigm has been the quantitative rather than qualitative study of normative rather than extraordinary phenomena. More to the point in the context of this volume, most creativity researchers likely can name only one or two interview studies of eminent creators.

A search of the literature yielded no prior review of research based on interviewing eminent creative individuals. The main goals of the present chapter therefore are three: to consider why some researchers have elected to work at this intersection point; to consider what has been learned there; and to discuss the practices specific to conducting this work. The intention is that at the end of the expedition around this fairly small space the reader will be equipped to decide if this kind of work is receiving all the cultivation it is due or if instead it is a fertile field whose relative neglect has limited scientific understanding; and in either case, will know how others go about pursuing ...

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