Creative Failure: Why Can't People Solve Creative Problems

Michael D. Mumford, Robert Martin, Samantha Elliott, Tristan McIntosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Although people attempt many creative problem solutions, in general, most creative problem-solving efforts, at least real-world efforts, fail. In the present effort, we examine the reasons creative problem-solving efforts typically fail. We argue that creative problem-solving efforts fail, in part, due to the fundamental nature of the kinds of problems that call for creative thought. However, the nature of people's creative problem-solving skills and the context in which they attempt to develop and implement creative problem solutions also results in failed attempts to solve creative problems. Based on these observations, we discuss how one might seek to develop people to encourage more success in creative problem-solving efforts.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Creative Behavior
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


  • creative cognition
  • creative problem-solving
  • creativity
  • failure
  • problem structure
  • social influences


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