Sunday, April 6, 2008

In-depth interview of Creativity research project

Research Objective:

The purpose of these interviews is to discover insights of creativity behavior in terms of procedures, determinants, mechanism, motivation, conditions and possible consequences of creative activities. The creative activities in this research are not the activities of creative professionals like artistes but rather the creative activities of ordinary people.

This research, conducted in IUJ community, can only obtain exploratory insights of creative activities because the limited number of respondents, three student-respondents. Therefore, generalized insights can not be inferred to the entire IUJ community from this research. However, the results of three individual in-depth interviews can be used to suggest some hypotheses to be tested in following research.

The respondents were asked questions about their creative activities, their feelings and motivation of such creative activities as well as the results of their creative activities. Their answers were quite different based on their backgrounds, experience, gender, culture etc. These answers are analyzed to find the similarities and differences among 3 interviewees.


Time: The three interviews were conducted separately at around 4pm each day.

Location: Interview 1 and 2 took place in the lounge on 2nd floor of SD2 and the 3rd interview was conducted in the study room 1. This setting helped the respondents concentrate on the discussed subject and cooperate fully to answer questions at his or her best knowledge. Each interview happened between only two people: the respondent and the interviewer.

Interview Framework: An In-depth Interview Question Outline (Appendix 1) was used as a guideline for the interviews. This outline was revised after the 1st and 2nd interviews based on what was learned from the previous interview. Mainly the interview was divided into two parts

Part 1: Discover the respondents’ demographic information

Part 2: Understand the characteristics of the respondents’ creative activities in 5 areas:

- Situations where the respondents created new things

- Determinants of creativity

- Mechanism of creativity

- Properties of creativity

- Internal and external consequences of creativity

Each interview was taped and transferred into Microsoft Word document in the Appendix 3.


The profiles of respondents are in the Appendix 2.

Summary and Analysis of the 1st Interview

The interview began with some questions about the background information of the respondent to understand better ideas of his original values and attitudes. The respondent is from a former-Soviet Union country where economy is not yet well-developed. He is 2nd year student at IUJ so he has experienced quite well life in Japan. His background is accounting and he has worked as an accountant so he was not exposed to an environment that requires many creative activities.

The motivation of his creativity is from outside. When he was asked about why he has such creative idea he said that he went to a Japanese family and tried a Chinese tea. When being asked about the internal needs to create new things, he said:

“No. When I see an interesting thing, I ask and I make. Sometimes I make because I want to know more about this type of things. I am curious of what is going to happen if I make.”

It is the environment where he was exposed to plays an important role in motivating him to make new things. As the typical example in the interview, he tried to make the Chinese tea for him after experiencing it because he thought it was good for him and he liked it. Here the curiosity has motivated him to make the tea but the environment played an important role in triggering the motivation of creativity.

The reason why his making tea is created, according to him, is the characteristics of living place. He mentioned that because of the water in Urasa he needed to find a new way to make tea although there are methods and guidance to make tea available for him to refer to. It is interesting to learn that he made a good tea because of the characteristics of water in Urasa. This suggests that somehow people create new things to adapt more to the environment and only in this environment people can have such creative activity.

His creative mechanism is traditional. He said that he needed to risk, try and fail many times before he could obtain the tea he wanted. There was no direct involvement of other persons in his creating process (process of trial and fail in testing different tea) but his friends played an important role in finding the materials for his creativity. When being asked about the cooperation in creating process, he mentioned that he was willing to cooperate with others as a partner to make new things. He said: “It’s better to work with some one because we can share information and other things”. This explains that creativity requires more than 1 person because it is a complicated process that one person may fail to complete from the beginning until the end.

Creativity gives creators some satisfaction and motivation to encourage others. This is true when he said that he was happy with his new tea and he wanted to invite his friends to taste his tea. He mentioned with enthusiasm that:

Creativity is good for both professional and daily life. If you are creative you can get good promotion together with good salary. In daily life you can make your life better by discovering new things.”

According to him, the motivation of creativity is the need of satisfaction. People always want satisfaction and they tend to find way to get it. Therefore, creativity is somehow the need inside each person.

Regarding the future creativity, he said that he wanted to create a new kind of food which has the attribute of current food but less dangerous for health. He reasoned that because of the weather people in his home country need food rich in energy but good for health. We can learn that creativity is to find a solution to make life better.

In summary, the first respondent answered questions in a cooperative way and he was open to all questions but the interview was somehow structural. This is perhaps because of the influence of Muslim culture. From the interview, he did not mention directly about his internal motivation to create new things but we can infer that he wanted to mention that creativity is inside people. The environment has an important role in triggering creative activities.

Summary and Analysis of 2nd Interview

The interview took place in the same place but the 2nd respondent seemed to be more open and friendly. She is more mature than the 1st respondent and has some work experience. Her job as a statistician did not require so many creative ideas like a person work in sales and marketing but somehow she needed to be creative in her work. The fact that she has her own family influences her lifestyle and the characteristics of her creativity. As she is 2nd year student, she has somehow adapted to lifestyle in Japan and is influenced by Japanese culture.

The motivation of her creativity is from outside. When being asked about why she has such creative idea she said that she used to hate tea in her home country but she was exposed to Japanese tea for such a long time in daily life (at restaurants, in the church) that she started to taste, pay attention to, drink and love it. When asked about the internal needs to create new things, she said No. On the way I experience things if I found something interesting, I try to make it myself”. Being in the environment where she saw tea everywhere, she changed her perception of tea from awareness to liking. When she really liked it, she wanted to make it herself. Unlike the 1st respondent who wanted to make a Chinese tea right after the 1st time he experienced it, she needed a long time to evaluate tea and to change her attitude. It means that she is not really ready to make new things. Perhaps, it’s not the matter of her creative ability but we can guess that it’s the nature of women who are somehow more prudent than men in taking risk. The environment was a prerequisite condition to her creativity. If she was not exposed to this environment long enough she could not have made this tea on her own.

Her creative mechanism is traditional. Like the first respondent, she said that she needed to try and fail many times. Unlike the 1st respondent, there was the direct involvement of her husband in her creating process as she said that her husband tried her tea and said which was better. The involvement might shorten the time needed to find the best way to make tea and give a better result of tea quality. Like the 1st respondent she also needed the assistance of her friends to find materials. When being asked about the cooperation in creating process, she mentioned that she might cooperate with her colleagues to create a new product. During the interview she showed her hesitate to answer this question. This is because, as she said, she has never experienced this kind of cooperation and she does not know to what extend she can cooperate to create a new product. Like the 1st respondent, her creativity requires more than 1 person involved.

She showed that she is very happy with the tea because she can enjoy it with her husband and her friends. The satisfaction of this creativity spread out of her family to her friends. This satisfaction might be the motivation for her future creativity as well as for her friends. Creativity is not always successful but when it is successful, many others can enjoy the result and be motivated.

Regarding the future creativity, she said that she wanted to make Japanese foods for her family. For women, family is somehow very important in life. That is the reason why she is learning Japanese cuisine and will try to make new foods in her home. The gender is somehow influences creative activities. Unlike the 1st respondent, she tends to create new things that satisfy her family. She mentioned that the Japanese food she wants to make should taste good to entertain her family. Therefore, creativity ties to what she value the most.

In summary, the 2nd respondent has different answers to the same questions due to her gender, background, experience, personal characteristics and the environment. She showed an interesting point that she wants to create something that would be of great value to her family.

Summary and Analysis of 3rd Interview

The 3rd interview was much more open-ended framework since the respondent is a much more dynamic as an MBA student. He has lived in India, one of the most dynamic countries in the world, with over 5 years of working experience. Working in an investment bank, he was exposed to a dynamic and creative environment. He responded with confidence and showed the creative thinking in his answers. Therefore, the interview was less structural, more business-oriented, friendly-like and discussion-like structure. His answers are much more influenced by his professional experience and future career. He just came to Japan last December but seems to well adapt to life in IUJ.

The motivation of his creativity is from inside. When he was asked about why he has such creative idea he said that he was a creative person. When being asked about the internal needs to create new things, he said:

I am a creative person and I like to make new things. When I came here I saw new things and I wanted to make things that I never experienced before.”

It is interesting to learn that he is self-motivated to create new things. For persons like him, the environment seems to be less important in motivating people to create because the motivation is already inside them and they tend to make new things in any environment.

However, the environment still plays a pivotal role in motivating him. He said that he made non-vegetarian food because he could not find vegetarian food in Japan. He noted that non-vegetarian food helps him survive in Japan. “It’s because I live here in Japan and foods are different from my country. I think it’s better to adapt to this environment”. We can see that this is the question of adaptation. Because he needs to adapt to a totally new environment he created non-vegetarian food. In this case, creativity is a solution to solve his problem of not being able to buy vegetarian food in Japan.

His creative mechanism is also traditional. He said that he tried and failed some times. There was no direct involvement of other persons in his creating process but his friends involved in helping him choose ingredients and sharing their experience so he could have a direction to make his own food. This explains that there are more than 1 person involve in a creative activity and cooperation is much important in shortening time and easing the creating process. When he was asked about his possible cooperation to develop a new product, he said that he will be willing to cooperate with any one by working with them. We can learn that creativity is not a one-person process but a cooperative process where some people work together to make new things.

Creativity gives him some satisfaction. He mentioned that he like his non-vegetarian food and he asked some friends to try it. He noted that his friends also like his food. The satisfaction if his creativity is not only in him but spread to his friends. It means that when he creates new foods, his friends around him also enjoy the benefits of his creation.

Regarding the future creativity, he said that he wanted to create a new software program in finance and he wanted to do something that relates to his future career. We can learn that his future creativity is somehow work-oriented. It is important to note that many people become very creative at their work and work is important motivation of creativity.

In summary, the 3rd respondent it quite open and dynamic in answering questions. He even showed his creativity in responding questions. The environment, profession and personality influence his creative activities. Unlike the 2nd respondent, he tends to create things that are close and familiar to his work. This is perhaps because men, by nature, tend to be more oriented to job than women.

Similarities and Differences Among the Interviewees

Creativity is influenced by many factors. Through 3 interviews with 3 respondents from different countries, we can find that creativity depends on gender, personality, religion, culture, profession, background and experience. The 2nd respondent is a married woman and she tends to create things that value to her family and the 3rd respondent showed his future work-oriented creative activities. The 3rd respondent said that his motivation to creativity is as one of his characteristics. It is important to note that 3 respondents have different points of view toward creativity but in general they share a common view: creativity is to find a way to make life better in the environment where they live. To some extent, creativity is to solve a problem.

The environment is a prerequisite condition for three respondents’ creativity to happen. The 1st respondent claimed that he made a new tea because he has seen it and experienced it. The 2nd respondent showed that she was exposed to the environment where tea is everywhere long enough to change her attitude to a tea-drinker. The 3rd respondent said that the environment requires him to eat non-vegetarian food so he needed to make it.

Creativity involves the creator and other people who enable him or her to create. Three respondents were the creators but they need either indirect or direct involvement from their community even though their creative things are very simple like food and tea. We can see that creativity is a complicated process that requires more than 1 person to work together. This suggests that the development of a new product would be more effective and faster if there is the involvement of consumers in the creative process because they can contribute their ideas about product attributes that meet their needs.

The satisfaction of creativity tends to spread in the community around the creator. Three respondents noted that they are happy with their self-made food and tea and they want to invite their friends to taste. For example, the 2nd respondent said her tea is used to gather her friends and to enjoy with her husband and the 3rd respondent asked his friends to taste his new food. This satisfaction will motivate them and other people in their community to create new things to make their life better and more enjoyable.

The contents of creativity are something very familiar with daily life or professional life. The first two respondents made tea and the third respondent made non-vegetarian food. Those things are very common in daily life. Perhaps the answers of the two first respondents were guided by explanatory sentences that the interviewer used to answer the respondents’ questions. This suggests that the interviewer should think about some possible answers or imagine some situations before the interview. When being asked about what IUJ students are going to create in the near future, two first respondents said that they expect some creative activities in IUJ Open Day. This is perhaps they have experienced it and they have had some creative activity in last year’ Open Day. Meanwhile, the third respondent who has never participated in Open Day, said that he wants to make something that help him in his work.

Three respondents use the same trial and fail method and have the same creative mechanism. First, they have creative ideas. Then, they seek for help or guidance or cooperation from other people in their community to make these ideas come true. This mechanism is different from the creative process of professional creators such as a poet who writes a poem without consulting any other people. This difference is important to understand that non-professional creativity tends to involve the cooperation between the creators and other people in their community.

In conclusion, the interviews have given some exploratory idea about creative patterns of some IUJ students for further research. We know from three respondents that creativity happens to solve a problem in daily life and involve more than one person. The patterns of creativity depend on many factors but the mechanism of creativity is the same. The environment is prerequisite and the cooperation is an enabler to creativity.

Interview skills

The interviewer should commence the interview with easy, non-sensitive questions to get the interviewees involved and interested. Sometimes the interviewer should give directions to the interviewees or help them understand questions. The interviewer should not change from one topic to another interruptedly and suddenly but rather adding some transitional sentences. Moreover, the interviewer should be friendly, listen carefully and follow the respondent’s ideas.

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