Methods for Studying Creativity: Ahead of the Curve



Organised by:



Michael Schober (New School, New York), Carey Jewitt (UCL Institute of Education) and Matthew Purver (Queen Mary University of London)


Entry (no or almost no prior knowledge)


Eva Nedbalova,


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Royal Statistical Society, 12 Errol Street, London


Researching creativity, collaboration and co-ordination requires methods that span disciplinary, quantitative and qualitative, and textual, visual and aural boundaries.  Michael Schober (New School, New York), Carey Jewitt (UCL Institute of Education) and Matthew Purver (Queen Mary University of London) discuss and demonstrate developing methods for studying creativity creatively.

MICHAEL SCHOBER:  Creativity in joint musical improvisation
Musical improvisation is a prototypically creative act, not only in obvious cases of “spontaneous composition” in free jazz but even in classical chamber musicians’ improvisatory adjustments to each other’s gestures in performances of notated music. This presentation focuses on two sets of studies as examples of methods for studying what happens in joint musical improvisation, where performers’ improvisations constrain and are constrained by the actions of the other performers. One experiment analyzes millisecond-level synchronization and blind-juror ratings of the playing of 30 pairs of jazz pianists and saxophonists as they played a specially-composed piece (with notated and improvised sections) face-to-face, via remote video, and via remote audio.  Another set of case studies uses a retrospective think-aloud method to examine how performing pairs in free jazz, be-bop, and classical chamber music individually characterize—immediately after performing—what just happened, e.g., their partner’s intentions, what worked and what didn’t. These studies then quantitatively examine the extent to which performers’ characterizations overlap, and the extent to which performers endorse (on Likert-type scales) their partner’s interpretations any more than interpretations by an outside listener. 
Michael Schober is Professor of Psychology and Associate Provost for Research at The New School in New York City

CAREY JEWITT:  Methodological innovation: the digital body and the sensory
I will use case studies from the MIDAS project, which explored methodological innovation across the social science and the arts with a focus on the body in digital environments. Drawing on the MIDAS case studies, I will discuss the potential synergies for social science generated by engaging with arts-based methods from fashion, performance and design. One aspect of this is how researchers might be able to identify and exploit the different ways in which the social sciences and the arts case studies zone and fragment the digital body, bring the sensory into view, and create different trajectories and boundaries between the physical and the digital-physical when they research the body. Carey Jewitt is Professor of Technology and Learning at the UCL Institute of Education.

MATTHEW PURVER: Studying Creativity via Computational Modelling
One way to investigate creativity is to build artificial agents which might be capable of creative output -- perhaps basing them on theories of human cognition and creativity -- and see how well they work. This talk will describe recent and ongoing work on a range of projects in the Computational Creativity Lab at Queen Mary University of London, explain how they relate to general models of human cognition, and discuss what insights they can give us. We will examine general statistical models of sequential and hierarchical learning, discuss how they can be connected to higher-level conceptual structures, and show how they can be applied to model language and music while generating interesting, novel outputs. Matthew Purver is Reader in Computational Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London

1.30 Registration and tea/coffee
2.00 Event starts - Chair and introduction by Patrick Sturgis
2.15 Michael Schober - paper 25 minutes, 10 minutes questions
2.50 Carey Jewitt - paper 25 minutes, 10 minutes questions
3.25 Tea/coffee
4.00 Matt Purver - paper 25 minutes, 10 minutes questions
4.35 Discussion between speakers and participants
5.00 Close



This event is free of charge but please register from the link below.

Website and registration:


Greater London


Data Collection, Qualitative Data Handling and Data Analysis, Quantitative Data Handling and Data Analysis, Creativity

Related publications and presentations:

Data Collection
Qualitative Data Handling and Data Analysis
Quantitative Data Handling and Data Analysis

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