The 5-C model of creativity

5-C Model - Velikovsky 02020

(Velikovsky 02017, 02018, 02020)

So, Kaufman & Beghetto (2009 & 2013) have great articles on the 4-C model of creativity. (See below)

And since reading a lot of great work by D K Simonton, I added a 5th category: Eminent-Genius level.


Creativity: x + y = xy2


A great book on creativity is Explaining Creativity (Sawyer 2012). The standard (2-part) definition of something that is creative [1] is:

An artefact (such as: a poem, a story, a joke, an invention, painting, movie, recipe, scientific theory (scientific model), even a person, a plant, animal, etc.) that is judged: new and useful by the field (the `environment’), for that domain.

The field is the industry & the audience, and, the domain is the branch of culture (e.g., say, the domain of: short stories, or of poems, or of songs, or soft drinks, or cars, or mousetraps, etc).[2]

Other synonyms for `new & useful’ include that the artefact (story, poem, song, etc.) is:

  • original & effective
  • non-derivative & it works
  • unexpected & relevant
  • innovative & appropriate
  • non-cliché & performs better than most (or even all) of the competition
  • (…you get the idea…!)

And, the (3-part) standard definition of creative is: an artefact (a story, a song, invention, joke, a person, a domesticated pet, etc etc) that is: new, useful (aka: effective) and surprising.

Creative = New, Effective, Surprising

Hey – note, the interrobang in there…(?!)

The Interrobang symbol: Combine 2 old things to make a new thing, and it works.

Scientific scholars of Creativity agree that: Creativity happens, when you combine two (or more) old things, and get a new thing, that’s then judged creative (new & useful) by the audience & experts (field) for that domain.[3]  i.e. I really like, this sweeping statement:

`Ultimately, all creative products have this quality: old ideas or elements are combined in new ways. This is the case for all domains of creativity.

(Martindale, 1989, p. 212).

So – viewing creativity as a spectrum, that we’re all on: (we’re all on this, together)

5-C Model - Velikovsky 02020

That diagram above takes the 4-C model of creativity (Kaufman & Beghetto 2009, 2013) diagram (one that I created a few years ago for my PhD) and I’ve added in (at the far right) D K Simonton’s (2010) 5th category: Eminent Genius (boldface-C Creativity).

And the five (5) creativity categories (from left to right on the bell-curve above) are:

  1. Everyday [mini-c] creativity – which we all do, (sometimes), every day…
  2. Transformative [little-c] creativity – an insight that solves problems
  3. Professional [Pro-c] creativity – e.g. selling a million copies of something
  4. Genius [big-C] Creativity – changing a domain (e.g. science, or movies, painting, music)
  5. Highly-Eminent Genius – or [boldface-big-CCreativity [these folks are rare, they only come along, on average, around once every 7 years. In: the WHOLE WORLD..!!!]

Examples of Eminent Geniuses (or, the 5th category, [boldface-CCreativity) would be, folks like: Einstein, Darwin, Marie Curie, Stanley Kubrick, and so on. (And, we are all creative, to some degree, every day). The ones at the right, are the “hardcore” creative folks.

So, the 5-C diagram of Creativity is what you get, when you combine these three things, below:

  1. Kaufman, J. C., & Beghetto, R. A. (2009). Beyond big and little: The Four C Model of CreativityReview of General Psychology, 13, 1-12.
  2. Kaufman, J. C., & Beghetto, R. A. (2013). Do people recognize the four Cs? Examining layperson conceptions of creativity. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 7(3), 229–236.
  3. Simonton, D. K. (2010). Creativity in Highly Eminent Individuals, in J. C. Kaufman & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity(pp. 174-188). Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Or, another, neater, version of the very same concept / idea / notion / thing:

5-C Model portrait - Velikovsky 02020

If you like formal academic refs, I’ve also published on this (The 5-C model of creativity) in The Journal of Genius & Eminence (2018).

Also, if you really like this kind of thing, see also, this recent article!

Jackson & Lassig (2020) Exploring and extending the 4C model of creativity: Recognising the value of an ed-c contextual-cultural domain. Creative Academic Magazine, pp. 47-63.


Creative Academic Magazine #15 (Jan 02020) – Extending the 4C Model

The above article also has a cool 5-C Model (adding ed(ucation)-C, with the 4-C model). (e.g. pp. 57, 59, 60, and you can see an iteration of it in the cover image, above.)


So, I think I see a 6-C Model coming on… 🙂

(And may the extended & expanded 4-C, 5-C, 6-C Models, never: er, cease.)


& Thanks for reading!

…Thoughts / Comments / Feedback, always welcome.

(& a sincere thanks to Carly Lassig for kindly correcting a yuge prior mistake in this post! 🙂

Related Articles:

StoryAlity #161 – `Technology – Memes: Units of Culture’ in: Encyclopedia of Creativity (3rd Edn, 02020)


Dr JT Velikovsky

Evolutionary Creativity Guy & High-RoI Story/Screenplay/Movie and Transmedia Researcher

The above is (mostly) an adapted excerpt, from my doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema”. It is presented here for the benefit of fellow screenwriting, filmmaking and creativity researchers. For more, see https://aftrs.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky

JT Velikovsky is also a produced feature film screenwriter and million-selling transmedia writer-director-producer. He has been a professional story analyst for major film studios, film funding organizations, and for the national writer’s guild. For more see: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/


[1] See: Runco, M. A., & Jaeger, G. J. (2012). The Standard Definition of Creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 24(1), pp. 92-96.

[2] See also The Systems Model of Creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 2014).

[3] Creativity scholar Colin Martindale (1989) states: `Ultimately, all creative products have this quality: old ideas or elements are combined in new ways. This is the case for all domains of creativity.’ (Martindale, 1989, p. 212).


Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). The Systems Model of Creativity: The Collected Works of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Netherlands: Springer (Kindle Edition).

Jackson & Lassig (2020) Exploring and extending the 4C model of creativity: Recognising the value of an ed-c contextual-cultural domain. Creative Academic Magazine, pp. 47-63.

Martindale, C. (1989). Personality, Situation and Creativity. In J. A. Glover, R. R. Ronning & C. R. Reynolds (Eds.), Handbook of Creativity: Perspectives on Individual Differences (pp. 211-232). New York; London: Plenum.

Velikovsky, J. T. (2018). Darwin & Kubrick, Joe Campbell & Me: Eminent-Genius and Everyday-Joe Heroes on a Journey. The Journal of Genius and Eminence, 2(2), pp. 55-69. doi: 10.18536/jge.2017.


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