Thesis ID: CBB001561720

Thomas A. Edison: Wizard of Menlo Park, or Ordinary Thinker? A Case Study in the Psychology of Creativity (2005)


Buonanno, Joseph F. (Author)

Temple University
Weisberg, Robert W.

Publication Date: 2005
Edition Details: Advisor: Weisberg, Robert W.
Physical Details: 104 pp.
Language: English

This dissertation examines the cognitive processes underlying Edison's development of three revolutionary technologies: the phonograph, the electric light, and the system of electrical power and distribution. The development of those technologies is examined from the standpoint of the creativity-as-ordinary-thinking perspective, a theoretical approach which emphasizes that the development of extraordinary creative products can be explained through the innovator's use of ordinary thought processes. Consistent with the assumptions that underlie this perspective, the preponderance of evidence gathered from this investigation suggests that Edison used ordinary cognitive processes to develop such seminal inventions as the phonograph, the electric light, and the system of electrical power and distribution. Examples include Edison's use technological antecedents to guide the development of those devices, and his use of structured thought processes, such as regional analogies and homing space searches, in his inventive thinking. These findings are in agreement with a growing body of evidence which suggests that other revolutionary creative products were developed through the use of ordinary cognitive processes.


Description Cited in Diss. Abstr. Int. B 67/01 (2006): 568. UMI pub. no. 3202991.

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Authors & Contributors
Wills, Ian
Sternberg, Robert J.
Wassmann, Claudia
Stross, Randall E.
Dalzell, Frederick
Skilters, Jurgis
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
Historia Scientiarum: International Journal of the History of Science Society of Japan
American Psychological Association
Crown Publishers
MIT Press
Unviersity of Latvia
Johns Hopkins University Press
Inventors and invention
Creativity; genius
Electricity; magnetism
Edison, Thomas Alva
Freud, Sigmund
Wundt, Wilhelm Max
Galton, Francis
Binet, Alfred
Brentano, Franz Clemens
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
21st century
20th century, late
United States
Graz (Austria)
Padua (Italy)
Würzburg. Universität

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