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Series, Vol. 83, No. 3 (Sep., 1981), pp. 628-630 Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/676764 . Accessed: 23/05/2011 10:28
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Human Organization 37:88-89. economic. After tabulating Kroeber's creativity data into 100-year periods for four civilizations (European. Provocative though Gray's theory may be. the movements in political fragmentation tend to be described by large aperiodic trends reflecting the immense amount of inertia in socioculturalsystems. political fragmentation. 1980 Applied Social Research and the Government: Notes on the Limits of Confidentiality. Kroeber himself suggested this explanation when he spoke of creators first building upon and then exhausting a given cultural pattern. and Napoleon notwithstanding. Yet there is no special reason to postulate that these environmental circumstances fall into neat cycles. Simply put. The above two potential explanations in mind. Instead. And Sheldon (1979) has proposed an interesting "cybernetic" model in which creativityis either encouraged or discouraged by the communication networksoperating between successive cohorts of creators. On the other hand. Trend. Edward Gray (1958. fluctuations in creative activity may be ascribed to extrinsic or environmental forces. When measured as deviations from this massive upward secular movement. M. the outcome is a period of great florescence in the arts and sciences. Although I am in basic agreement with Taagepera and Colby's reanalysis of Gray's data. G. 1979). Gray's epicycles just vanish. 1976. A good illustration of this alternative approach is a pioneer study by Naroll and his students (1971) which applied cross-cultural methodology to transhistorical research. As they point out.628 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [83. Naroll assessedsuch potential predictors as wealth. the departures from the exponential trend still tend to fall into crests and troughs--into configurations. Indian. Kroeber's original question remains. and Chinese). Confidentiality. political. that is. Davis Kroeber's Configurations of Culture Growth (1944) posed a significant problem: Why do creators in any discipline. Taagepera and Colby (1979) have recently offered evidence in AA that the changes in creativity are dominated by an upward exponential trend. When the peaks of these three cycles converge. 1961. In a series of papers published mostly in psychological journals I have tried to exploit econometric methods in order to accomplish just such a consolidation (e. paradigm. or tradition. On the one hand. the question now becomes how to integrate the various possibilities into a single predictive equation which concomitantly makes all due allowance for the exponential trend demonstrated by Taagepera and Colby. Simonton 1975. the ups and downs in creativity which form Kroeber's configurations are the effects of underlying cycles in the political. Gray'smodel assumessuch an explanation when he argues that creativity results from the coincidence of favorable economic. and social milieu. I would specificallylike to mention an article which set up a dynamic structuralequation . Erve. and optimal challenge.g. 1981] Chambers. and social conditions. Islamic. Paper presented at the 1978 Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association. large and stable empires are not usually built overnight. and Regulations: A Dissent.. governmental centralization. 1966) attempted to addressthis question by proposing an epicyclical model. 1977. The ups and downs in creativity could be partly attributed to underlying fluctuations in political fragmentation. 1978 Freedom. Taagepera and Colby suggest that this exponential growth in creativity may be partially due to general population growth and to the tendency to discount earlier historical events. and in any civilization area. Significantly. researchers can simply measure those sociocultural events thought to nurture creativity and then test for any hypothesized correlation. Genghis Khan. cluster into Golden Ages that are separated by Dark Ages? In a series of papers published in AA. Social Problems 27:342-349. Submitted 23 May 1980 Accepted 24 February 1981 Creativity in Western Civilization: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Causes DEAN KEITH SIMONTON University of California. geographical expansion. So what causes this creative clustering? There are two major though not necessarily mutually exclusive possibilities. and Alvin W. to changes in the number of independent states into which the civilization was divided. Alexander the Great. Wolfe 1978 Legal and Ethical Problems in Clientoriented Field Research. these aperiodic fluctuations may be the outcome of intrinsic or dialectic properties of creativity.
Gray. but additionally by calculating reliability coefficients I have shown that the data are of sufficient quality to justify the exploitation of these advanced analytical tools. American Anthropologist 63: 1014-1037. 1979 Hierarchical Cybernets: A Model for the Dynamics of High Level Learning and Cultural Change. Barber 1981). L.. References Cited Barber. imperial instability. Fohl. M. Hildreth. In addition. Creativity. 1966 Measurement of Creativity in Western Civilization.. Genius. K. Simonton. Sheldon. R. M. or revolts and rebellions against large empire states. including political fragmentation. 1961 An Epicyclical Model for Western Civilization. Then several extrinsic. Because both political instability and imperial instability exhibit aperiodic fluctuations or quasi cycles. Benjamin. Table 1. p. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 35:805-816. Fried. political assassinations. Charles E. Naroll. On the other hand. In particular. explains about 72% of the variance in creativity over the history of European civilization. the concept of role-model availability or social learning (cf. Schaefer 1971 Creativity: A Cross-Historical pilot survey. E. for all its first-approximation character. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 32:1119-1133. Social Forces 54:513--523. where political instability is defined by a weighted index of military revolts. Fluctuations in creativity were assessed as the deviations from an overall exponential trend. 1944 Configurations of Culture Growth. F. environmental predictors were operationalized. Finally. Dean Keith 1975 Sociocultural Context of Individual Creativity: A Transhistorical Time-Series Analysis. After updating Kroeber's extensive listings. coups-d'etat. 1977 Eminence. American Anthropologist 83:143-144. Not only do dynamic structural equations offer a more sophisticated response to the theoretical issues involved. numerous control variables were defined to handle potential methodological artifacts such as certain dating biases (see Simonton 1975. creativity would be expected to follow a roughly similar course. and war. Russell J. E. and the like. 1981 Comments on the Quantitative Study of Creativity in Western Civilization. imperial instability. Part of the clustering of creators into configurations is due to the dependence of creative development upon the presence of creative role-models in the previous two generations. Although it is clearly too early to say whether Kroeber's question has been fully answered.g. Kroeber's "imitation") was the basis of a hypothesized intrinsic or dialectic influence across successive generations of creators. and Geographic Marginality: A Recursive Structural Equation Model. the number of creators at generation g was presumed to be a function of the number of creators at generations g-1 and g-2. And it is definitely encouraging to report that the initial dynamic equation. Kroeber. political instability. the amount of creativity at generation g is a negative function of the amount of political instability at generation g. On the one hand. Berkeley: University of California Press. The resulting equation shows that both intrinsic and extrinsic causes are responsible for the aperiodic fluctuations about the exponential trend line. it seems safe to argue that an econometric approach which employs both intrinsic and extrinsic factors may provide a good place to start. At least this methodology can do much to silence those who have criticized the quantitative study 629 of creativity in Western civilization (e. creators were assigned to one of 127 consecutive 20-year periods or "generations" according to the same 40-year floruit employed by both Kroeber and Gray. 1976 The Sociopolitical Context of Philosophical Beliefs: A Transhistorical Causal Analysis. or Chance? Journal of . John C. J.REPORTS AND COMMENTS for time series of creativity in Graeco-Roman and Western civilization (Simonton 1975). American Anthropologist 60:13-31. American Anthropologist 68:1384-1417. A. Cybernetica 22:179-202. 1979 Multiple Discovery and Invention: Zeitgeist. R. 1127). yielding a second-order autoregressive dynamic model. has a positive impact on creativity in the next generation. C.1. dynastic conflicts. Another portion of this same temporal contiguity of creators results from the dependence of creative development upon environmental forces which are not randomly distributed over time. and J. 1958 An Analysis of Graeco-Roman Development: The Epicyclical Evolution of Graeco-Roman Civilization. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 2:181-188.
Hays 1964) reveals that some form of prohibition toward menstruating women is virtually universal. Frazer 1951. An investigation of whether these taboos are indeed based on empirically demonstrable animal behaviors would offer valuable information on psycho-social universals regarding women and their status. (However. and Benjamin N. but it must be expected to supply a means toward understanding what it takes to be its field of study. Lupton and Toth 1976. a goal impossible to achieve and undesirable in any case.) Nor does the ar- . that only through careful use of explicit theories and derivable hypotheses tested through carefully obtained field data would anthropological theory advance. Many of these "taboos' are based on the rationale that menstrual odor is offensive to the game animals which contribute in some degree to subsistence (see Driver 1969:99). It is generally conceded among cultural anthropologists that there is little evidence. of women playing a significant role in hunting. and that is the function of theory-based fieldwork. Submitted 18 April 1980 Revised manuscript submitted 5 February 1981 Accepted 16 March 1981 References Cited Bateson. 1980) report on her test of the responseof nonhuman animals (deer) to menstrual odor. March's(AA 82:125-126. However. Such a position is diametrically opposed to that of logical positivism. Mary Catherine 1980 Continuities in Insight and Innovation: Toward a Biography of Margaret Mead. CHRISTOPHER NUNLEY Southern Methodist University It was with great interest that I read Kathryn S. That the form and function of these proscriptionsmay have changed over time would not negate the authenticity of what may have been associated with empirical observation. Response of Deer to Human Blood Odor M. namely. Ford and Beach 1951. I argue for advance through theory testing. This position is supported by March's study. 1981] Personality and Social Psychology 37: 1603-1616.630 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [83. By doing so. Taagepera. 1980) confuses my discussion of common assumptions regarding fieldwork in early anthropology with my own opinions. However. American Anthropologist 82:270277. An examination of the literature (see Delaney. among extant populations. SALAMONE Wenner-GrenFellow 57 Linden Avenue Middletown. my position agrees with Bateson's goal for fieldwork-for the integrity and "disciplined subjectivity" objectivity of a discipline are not based on the goodness of its practitionersbut on its structures and controls. Cooper's comments have helped solidify my thoughts on these matters. Anthropology cannot be expected to furnish truth. However. Submitted 29 December 1980 Revised manuscript submitted 12 February 1981 Revised manuscript submitted 23 March 1981 Accepted 5 April 1981-- Reply to Matthew Cooper FRANK A. Griffin  has reported a substantial amount of hunting by Agta women of the Philippines. Cooper'srecent critique (AA 82:385-387. which indicates that menstrual odor does indeed produce an avoidance response in whitetailed deer. he misses my essential point. New York 10940 I am pleased to note that my article on the epistemology of fieldwork has generated interest within the profession. Rein. Colby 1979 Growth of Western Civilization: Epicyclical or Exponential?American Anthropologist 81:907-912. I do not argue for what Bateson (1980) terms a sterile objectivity. Anthropologists should become aware of the internal and external constraints on fieldwork. which holds that universal anthropological laws are derivable via induction from the data themselves. that such a response in prey animals is due to distinctlyfemale odor (as argued by Dobkin de Rios [1976:261] ) ignores the influence of natural selection. But it is compatible with Cooper's own restatement of Hempel's position as well as with an interest in both the internal and external conditions of fieldwork.
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