Long before psychology was a science, creativity was seen in many cultures as an essentially important yet difficult to understand aspect of human experience. Throughout history, to account for the mysterious inception of novel and useful ideas, appeals have often been made to supernatural forces and divine intervention. Decades ago, as psychology first began to approach, in earnest, the study of creativity from a scientific perspective, the perception that creativity was enigmatic persisted, with the construct being identified as amongst “the vaguest, most ambiguous, and most confused terms in psychology” (Ausubel, 1964, p. 344). Recent years have seen increasing amounts of research in the psychological literature aimed at understanding the nature of creative thought, yet this increased attention has done little to rectify the longstanding difficulty in characterizing the true nature of creative thought. At the global level, creativity studies has been described as fractionated, with

researchers from diverse academic disciplines and subfields of psychology, such as social, cognitive, and industrial/organizational areas, having little convergence in the way they approach the study of creativity (Hennessey & Amabile, 2010). Empirical exploration and theoretical development seems to exist within silos, and the opinion of some leading researchers diverges little from Ausubel’s (1964) characterization, with contemporary research having been described as “murky but plentiful” (Hennessey & Amabile, 2010, p. 576). Confusion abounds within more local issues as well, with a particularly glaring inconsistency appearing in the cognitive literature regarding the extent to which executive cognition aids or hinders the creative process (e.g., Barr, Pennycook, Stolz, & Fugelsang, 2015; Smeekens & Kane, 2016). The current chapter considers this local issue – the relative contribution of

executive processing – in light of increasing amounts of evidence that reason is

important in many types of creative thinking. Importantly, it is argued that such findings are not contradictory to results that find analytic thinking can hinder creative thought, nor are they in conflict with work that illuminates the importance of associative processing in insight problem solving. Rather, such evidence constitutes complementary qualifications surrounding a nuanced and dynamic psychological construct. Through consideration of the evidence surrounding the interaction of autonomous and controlled thinking in diverse forms of creativity, and the sorts of theoretical models required to account for such evidence, suggestions are made for how to conceptualize creativity more globally, with an eye for unifying some of the broader challenges faced by the study of creativity as a whole. Thus, this chapter has several aims. First, it reviews the growing evidence

implicating a central role of analytic thinking in certain types of creative thinking and considers the implications for local debates surrounding the utility of executive engagement in creative thought. It is concluded that different sorts of creative thinking require varying degrees of executive engagement and that more local theories of specific sorts of creative thinking are required. It is then argued that conceiving of this local issue from this perspective has implications for the sorts of broad conceptual frameworks that should be used to describe creative thought across subfields. In particular, it is suggested that researchers ought to adopt a metatheoretical model that can account for the dynamic exchange between autonomous and controlled processing and the way that these modes of thought connect to generative and evaluative content in diverse contexts. To satisfy these requirements, creativity is argued to be best considered in the context of a broader dual-process meta-theoretical framework of human thinking, which has been explicated in the reasoning and decision-making literatures (cf., Evans & Stanovich, 2013). It is suggested that an important aspect of clarifying the nature of creative thinking is to strive for common conceptual language and frameworks across subfields wherever reasonable and feasible (see Silvia, 2014). The benefits of adopting such a perspective within the study of creativity are discussed, as are the positive implications for greater cross-pollination across reasoning and creativity research.