8.00 A.M.

As if by design: How creative behaviors really evolve

- Edward Wasserman -

Ed Wasserman, comparative psychologist

University of Iowa, USA

We’ve all heard the saying that: “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” But, there’s another bit of wisdom we should also appreciate: “although it may be hard to imagine, things haven’t always been the way they are now.” Take the Olympic Games, for example. Swimmers currently compete in the extremely popular and exciting Butterfly event; but, the stroke wasn’t invented until 1935 and sanctioned for competition until 1956! High jumpers now twist and soar backward over the high bar, although this peculiar flopping style wasn’t performed until 1968! How did these innovations arise? Were they the result of genius, inspiration, insight, and foresight? I explore the origins of these remarkable innovations and many others in the fields of medicine, entertainment, culture, and the arts in order to find answers. Although each case is unique, I propose that three basic factors are at work: context, consequence, and coincidence. These mundane influences—not romantic fictions—permit us to gain a clearer perspective on how creative behaviors really evolve.