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Extraordinary : reflections on sample representativeness

Dörfler, Viktor and Stierand, Marc (2019) Extraordinary : reflections on sample representativeness. In: The Palgrave Handbook of Social Creativity Research. Palgrave Studies in Creativity and Culture . Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, Switzerland, pp. 569-584. ISBN 978-3-319-95498-1

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Abstract

In this chapter we reflect on a particular way of studying immensely high complexity, such as creativity, by investigating extraordinary achievers. The basis of our reflections are two empirical studies, one conducted in the area of haute cuisine, through interviewing top chefs, and the second conducted in the area of science, thorough interviewing Nobel Laureates. We explore why we feel that studying such extraordinary individuals can be more fruitful for better understanding creativity than trying to achieve an artificially manufactured sample that provides insights about the creative potential of the average individual. We outline the problems we see with the notion of representative samples from both conceptual as well as feasibility perspectives and offer an argument for studying the extraordinary instead.