Imagination be used in all sectors of cultural

Imagination and creativity are often
closely associated and rather synonymous, but imagination is a much broader
idea and is not solely based on the ability to come up with original
ideas.  Imagination itself involves the ability
to mentally travel to different spaces of time in the past or future, the
ability to mentally travel to another place or circumstance and think about
what could be, the ability to plan, propose, organize, and predict future
events, and the ability to create fictional universes and worlds.  Imagination is also characterized by the
allowing of oneself to become mentally engaged in narratives created by others,
and the ability to ponder alternatives to real experiences (Runco, 2011).  Imagination is not just about innovation and
coming up with important creative insights, but also dictates daily
insignificant thoughts, such as what color one would like to paint the
walls.  Using the imagination involves
stepping outside of reality, which can include daydreaming, recalling memories,
and creating fictional settings.  Upon
considering imagination and creativity, one may wonder how and why imagination,
and therefore creativity, differ between children and adults.  While one age group may not be more creative
than the other, children and adults use their imagination in different ways for
different outcomes, and contrary to popular belief, adults have a very active
imagination.  Imagination at a young age
can affect later creativity. Also, there are ways to enhance imagination, and
therefore creativity.

What one must first understand is that
creativity is driven by the ability to retain memories, and deconstruct and
recombine ideas in new ways in order to create novel products.  This ability to combine ideas in new ways
requires imagination.  Imagination is not
just innocent fantasizing; it has very real implications and can be used in all
sectors of cultural life, facilitating artistic, scientific, and technological
creation (Vygostky, 2004).  Imagination
is essentially responsible for everything man has created.  

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            As many would agree, creativity
relies on imagination.  Unrestrained and
unconstrained thinking is important to creativity.  This is due to, for example, the cognitive
freedoms that come with an active imagination (Stokes, 2014).  Imagination is in part defined by thinking
about completely original situations, while coming up with a truly creative
idea also requires thinking of something that no one has ever heard of; novelty
is a crucial aspect of creative thinking.  Creativity also involves physical
manifestations of ideas that can work, but physical inventions must be mentally
visualized.  All inventions begin as a
mental concept. 

Imagination can first be seen in youth,
beginning at an extremely young age. 
Specific aspects and manifestations of imagination influence present and
future creativity in a child. Imagination is demonstrated through fictional
narratives as children play and imaginary friends that children create.  Pretending to cook a real meal with plastic
food and adding imaginary ingredients, playing family and assuming roles such
as mother and father, giving voices and actions to dolls, etc., are all
manifestations of imagination that many see in children or remember
experiencing as a child.  According to
scientist Mark A. Runco, young children who make imaginary friends show increased
social competence and creativity and imaginary friends are associated with
better performance on cognitive tasks (Runco, 2011).  This conveys a correlation between
imagination and creativity, as children who utilize and express their
imagination have been found to think more creatively.  Through pretend play, which includes creating
situations and storylines with dolls, figures, and other objects, children are
able to explore and pick apart real-life themes and challenges, discover new
insights, and generate deeper understandings (Runco, 2011).  Although more research is required, pretend
play in youth has also found to be linked to creativity and divergent thinking
later in life.  Activities such as
pretend play can be seen as either a foundation for creativity or early
manifestations of creativity (Mullineaux, 2009).  One study had children
at age 5 participate in role/pretend play and years later the same people took
alternative uses tests at ages 10 and 15; Several studies such as this have
revealed associations between early pretend play and later scores on creativity
tests, demonstrating that imaginative behaviors such as pretend play in early
life can predict later creative development (Mullineaux, 2009). 
This is because if a child participates in pretend play, this may mean
he/she has an open-minded personality and pretend play may enable “general
thought processes associated with creativity” as the child explores and
recombines ideas of characters and themes through different perspectives (Mullineaux, 2009).

The majority, if not all, of this
pretend play and conversation with imaginary friends directly mirrors and is
based off of what those children have seen adults do – past experience is the
foundation for imagination.  However, child
play is not just a replication of what the child has experienced, but is a
creative reconfiguration of it (Vygotsky, 2004).  Childhood imagination leads to the ability to
rework real ideas to be creative; Children imitate the behaviors of the adults
in their lives, but assimilate those behaviors to their own needs and desires
in order to create innovative and fresh realities (Vygotsky, 2004).  This emphasizes the importance and
utilization of recombining ideas in imagination.  For example, if a child sees a dog chasing a
cat, the child may make up context to go with it: The dog and the cat were
friends and were together one day, the cat woke up the dog from a nap, the dog
became angry, and the dog began to chase the cat.  These are basic concepts and plausible
situations, but the child combined them in a way that was new and creative.

Of course, as one grows and develops,
the desire for an imaginary friend, whether invisible or represented by
objects, dwindles – but imagination is still important in adulthood.  This kind of imagination is utilized later in
life in mature careers that involve creating fantastical worlds, such as
writing books, plays, and screenwriting, demonstrating the similarities between
childhood and adulthood imagination.  Creating
fictional characters, plots, and scenes for pretend play as a child is also
similar to the way adults reflect on experiences.  Looking beyond oneself promotes “deep insight
into human behavior and contribute to the development of wisdom” because
children and adults have the ability to assume and keep track of the mental
perspectives and personalities of others (Runco, 2011).  Both children and adults learn how to make
decisions and communicate based on their interpretations of imagined events.

Imagination is used differently in
adults than in children in the sense that adults can use imagination to deal
with emotions, to reflect, and to learn about other perspectives differently.  While children express emotions towards imaginary
situations or imaginary friends, adults can use imaginary situations to cope
with anxiety, trauma, and other emotional problems (Runco, 2011).  Besides fantastical imagination, adults can
use their imagination intellectually and logically and may be able to make more
sense out of their imagined situations. 
Childhood pretend interactions take the form of “intellectual exercises
such as imagined conversations with historical figures” in adulthood (Runco,
2011).  Adults often imagine
conversations and experiences with people they have never met, such as
celebrities.  They can also imagine
interactions in order to rehearse messages or performances (ever stood in front
of a mirror and pretended to talk to someone?), and manage emotions (Runco,
2011).  Recent studies have focused on
how imagined interactions affect real-life behaviors, and have produced such
discoveries that imagining contact with minorities can actually lower one’s
feelings of prejudice or bias towards that minority group (Runco, 2011).  This demonstrates the importance and
relevance of imagination in adulthood.  A
stronger and more active imagination in childhood leads to a better
understanding of people and their mental traits in adulthood as children learn
about fictional and real social themes. 
One perspective, pointed out by philosopher Peter Carruthers (2002), explains that the imagination utilized in childhood
can be seen as practice for later creativity in adulthood.  Pretend play is one example of this.  We can compare a child pretending a banana is
a telephone and thinking and acting within these imagined boundaries to the way
adults ask questions such as ‘suppose it was the case that X’ when problem-solving
creatively or making theories (Carruthers, 2002).

One perspective says that the adult
imagination is deeper than a child’s, contrary to what many would initially
think.  Popular belief assumes that
childhood imagination is more active and vivid than adulthood imagination.  However, scientific observations show that,
in addition to not having as much experience as an adult, children have more
basic interests, the way they interact and relate with their environment is not
as complex, diverse, and subtle as the way adults do (Vygotsky, 2004).  According to this perspective, a young
person’s imagination may be subpar when compared to an adult’s.  Just as a child develops into an adult, a
less-developed imagination develops into a more seasoned one.  This is proven by research that shows the
creative activity of the imagination is directly dependent on the abundance,
diversity, and variety of a one’s past experiences; These experiences are the
groundwork upon which the fantastical ideas are generated and constructed
(Vygotsky, 2004). Therefore, since an adult has acquired more knowledge and
gone through more experiences than a child, their imagination could be seen as
fuller and their creativity more advanced. 
As we discussed in class, creativity is also reliant on the quantity and
diversity of experiences.

A more complex perspective views the
childhood imagination as less advanced but more vivid, active, and strong: “The
child can imagine vastly less than the adult, but he has greater faith in the
products of his imagination and controls them less, and thus imagination… what
is unreal and made up, is of course greater in the child than in the adult”
(Vygotsky, 2004).  A child may not have
the capabilities to create combinations and imagine the amount of situations
and relationships that an adult can, but children’s imaginations are constantly
buzzing.  They allow their imaginations
to run free and sometimes, like in the case of an imaginary friend or believing
in Santa Claus and dragons and fairies, have confidence in their imagination.  However, a more imaginative and therefore
creative child, the more creative that child might be in adulthood, due to
associations discussed earlier; It is also fair to say creativity increases
with age because creative people rely more on crystallized intelligence, which
is a type of intelligence that relies on using learned knowledge and past
experience and increases with age and develops over time (Csikszentmihalyi,

There are several ways to enhance
imagination, including enriching one’s experiences.  Exposing oneself to plentiful and new
experiences and situations makes for a more vivid and active imagination.  The more experiences one has, the more
productive their imagination, and therefore the more creative the individual
becomes (Vygotsky, 2004).  Reading
fictional books is another strategy; more research needs to be done on how
exactly it affects behavior, but it is confirmed to be more than just a fun and
relaxing leisurely activity.  Reading
fiction can enhance “empathy and social inference in real life” and enhances
our ability to imagine how we would react to real life events that have not
happened (Runco, 2011).  Just as when a
child is pretend playing, he/she must step into the shoes of characters and
being to understand different events through different perspectives.  The more one reads fictional novels, short
stories, etc., the more one will exercise their imagination.  In a more general sense, reading fiction opens
the closed mind (Djikic, 2013), giving rise to more creative
thinking.  Imagination can also be
encouraged by a particular environment and can be sparked when a child is
provided with the time, space, and resources/objects to use and explore their
imagination (Runco, 2011).  Daydreaming,
and letting one’s mind travel, is a form of imagination in which unlikely associations
are merged together into consciousness, which means mind wandering is likely to
be a crucial part of enabling creative breakthroughs (Runco, 2011).  Recombination is an important part of
creativity, and the more one lets the mind wander, the more they exercise
recombining ideas in new ways.  It is
important to instigate the exercise of imagination in children starting at a
young age, so that they may develop vital and diverse skills that they will
carry into adolescence (Duffy, 2006).  In
children, the more imagination is employed through aforementioned activities
such as pretend play, the more creative the child will be.  This can be seen in preschoolers; those who
spend more time acting out roles and pretending to be characters have higher
levels of creativity (Bronson, 2010).

As we discussed in class, creative
individuals require certain environments and spaces in order to conduct
creative work as well.  Creative thinkers
may look for resources and spaces that spur their imagination.  As an adult in a real career, imagination and
creativity can only go as far as the current technology and resources
allow.  Therefore, the more resources and
the more advanced those resources are, the more imaginative and thus creative
one will be.  Circumstances that are not
always controllable, such as wealth and social class, can also impact
imagination and creativity.  Research has
shown that a higher percentage of scientific, technical, and artistic creators
come from privileged classes rather than more disadvantaged and lower classes (Vygotsky,
2004).  Upper-class people compared to
lower-class people and citizens of well-developed nations compared to citizens
of underdeveloped nations have more resources and tools, such as education,
books, technology, toys, and ways to communicate.

Imagination transcends creativity as,
in addition to enhancing creativity, it allows people to plan ahead, helps with
decision making, and appears in daily thought, to name a few.  However, imagination has an undeniable and
direct relationship with creativity, whether one is three years old or thirty
years old.  There are abundant
differences and similarities between child and adult imaginations and therefore
creativity levels, but imagination in childhood has been shown to predict
creativity later in life.  Actively exercising
the imagination and encountering a plethora of experiences will allow for more
creativity in children and adults, as they are linked by brain processes.


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