Where is the When of Creativity? Specifying the Temporal Dimension of the Four Cs of Creativity

James C. Kaufman, Ronald A. Beghetto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Creativity researchers typically focus on the who, what, why, where, and how of creativity. A noticeable omission is when. The when is not completely ignored in the field; it surfaces in developmental and evolutionary perspectives, the study of eminent creators, and other avenues of scholarship. In this paper, we assert that for the concept of when to be fully addressed researchers need to more actively consider the past, present, and future and how they interact. More specifically, we propose an expanded way of thinking about the when of creativity by introducing a temporal dimension to the definition of creativity. Our definition offers a broader lens for researchers to consider the temporal dimensions of originality, meaningfulness, and impact of creativity. After introducing our definition and describing its unique features, we discuss how researchers can use our definition to trace creative phenomena across a full temporal trajectory and thereby provide more nuanced and dynamic representation of how the features of creativity change across time and contexts. Finally, we apply this temporal definition to the Four Cs Model of Creativity to illustrate how considering the when can help resolve lingering questions about this perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-205
Number of pages12
JournalReview of General Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • creativity
  • creativity theory
  • definition of creativity
  • four Cs of creativity
  • temporal judgments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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