Judging Popular Novels as Creative Products: Which Creative Attributes Contribute to their Success?

Open access


The purpose of the present study was threefold. First, to explore whether a German version of the Creative Product Semantic Scale can be applied to novels, a hitherto poorly investigated creative product. Second, to determine which of the emerging attributes might affect the potential for success of a novel. Third, to check whether the novels judged are distinguishable in terms of their creative attributes. In an online study, participants judged four popular novels from recollection: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, The Hobbit, Twilight, and Inkheart. A factor analysis of items based on the Harry Potter subsample indicated four major dimensions: Resolution, Novelty, Style and Complexity. Among the dimensions, Resolution was the only dimension predicting potential for commercial success in a multiple regression. Novels were not distinguishable on the basis of the dimensions judged, indicating that the present CPSS did not have enough discriminatory power to detect differences among novels from the same genre. Additional measures indicated judgments had been relatively stable since the reading experience. Furthermore, a large proportion of participants was presumably biased in their memory, due to having watched the respective movie adaptation. This was suggested by a false memory check. Surprisingly however, there were no detectable differences in judgment between those who passed and those who failed the false memory check.

Acar, S., Burnett, C., & Cabra, J. F. (2017). Ingredients of Creativity: Originality and more. Creativity Research Journal, 29, 133–144. https://doi.org/10.1080/10400419.2017.1302776

Agnoli, S., & Corazza, G. E. (2019). Emotions: The Spinal Cord of the Creative Thinking Process. In R. A. Beghetto & G. E. Corazza (Eds.), Dynamic Perspectives on Creativity (pp. 47-65). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

Albrecht, R. (1977). Buch und Leser in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland [Book and reader in the Federal Republic of Germany] (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, Universität Bremen, Bremen, Germany).

Batey, M., & Furnham, A. (2006). Creativity, intelligence, and personality: A critical review of the scattered literature. Genetic, Social and General Psychology Monographs, 132, 355-429.

Beck, J. (2006). The sales effect of word of mouth: A model for creative goods and estimates for novels. Journal of Cultural Economics, 31, 5-23.

Besemer, S. P. (1998). Creative Product Analysis Matrix: Testing the model structure and a comparison among products - Three novel chairs. Creativity Research Journal, 11, 333–346. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15326934crj1104

Besemer, S. P. (2000). To buy or not to buy: Predicting the willingness to buy from creative product variables. The International Journal of Creativity & Problem Solving, 10, 5-18.

Besemer, S. P., & O’Quin, K. (1986). Analyzing creative products: Refinement and test of a judging instrument. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 20, 115–126. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2162-6057.1986.tb00426.x

Besemer, S. P., & O’Quin, K. (1999). Confirming the three-factor Creative Product Analysis Matrix Model in an American sample. Creativity Research Journal, 12, 287–296. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15326934crj1204

Besemer, S. P., & Treffinger, D. J. (1981). Analysis of creative products: Review and synthesis. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 15, 158–178. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2162-6057.1981.tb00287.x

Birney, D. P, Beckmann, J. F., & Seah, Y.-Z. (2016). More than the eye of the beholder: The interplay of person, task, and situation factors in evaluative judgements of creativity. Learning and Individual Differences, 51, 400-408. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2015.07.007

Blair, C. S., & Mumford, M. D. (2007). Errors in idea evaluation: Preference for the unoriginal? Journal of Creative Behavior, 41, 197–222. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2162-6057.2007.tb01288.x

Bransford, J. D., & Franks, J. J. (1971). The abstraction of linguistic ideas. Cognitive Psychology, 2, 331–350. https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0285(71)90019-3

Burke, M. (2015). The neuroaesthetics of prose fiction: pitfalls, parameters and prospects. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9, 442. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2015.00442

Carson, S., Peterson, J. B., & Higgins, D. M. (2005). Reliability, validity, and factor structure of the creative achievement questionnaire. Creativity Research Journal, 17, 37–50.

Chevalier, J., & Mayzlin, D. (2006). The effect of word of mouth on sales: Online book reviews. Journal of Marketing Research, 43, 345–354. https://doi.org/10.1509/jmkr.43.3.345

Clement, M., Proppe, D., & Sambeth, F. (2006). Der Einfluss von Meinungsführern auf den Erfolg von hedonischen Produkten [The impact of opinion leaders on the success of hedonic products]. Journal of Business Economics, 76, 797–824. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11573-006-0038-4

Cropley, D., & Cropley, A. (2008). Elements of a universal aesthetic of creativity. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 2, 155–161. https://doi.org/10.1037/1931-3896.2.3.155

Cropley, D., & Kaufman, J. C. (2012). Measuring functional creativity: Non-expert raters and the Creative Solution Diagnosis Scale. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 46(2), 119-137.

Cropley, D., & Cropley, A. (2005). Engineering creativity: A systems concept of functional creativity. In J. Kaufman & J. Baer (Eds.), Faces of the muse: How people think, work and act creatively in diverse domains (pp. 169–185). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Das, J. P., Rath, R., & Das, R. S. (1955). Understanding versus suggestion in the judgement of literary passages. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 51, 624–628. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0049344

Diedrich, J., Benedek, M., Jauk, E., & Neubauer, A. C. (2015). Are creative ideas novel and useful? Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 9, 35–40. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0038688

Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Lang, A.-G., & Buchner, A. (2013). G*Power 3.1.7 Software. Retrieved from http://gpower.hhu.de/

Forgeard, M. J. C., Kaufman, S. B., & Kaufman, J. C. (2013). The psychology of creative writing. In G. Harper (Ed.), A companion to creative writing (pp. 320–333). New York, NY: Blackwell Publishing.

Form, S. (2018). Reaching wuthering heights with brave new words: The influence of originality of words on the success of paramount bestsellers. The Journal of Creative Behavior. ŁŁ, 0, pp. 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1002/jocb.230

Form, S., Schlichting, K., & Kaernbach, C. (2017). Mentoring functions: Interpersonal tensions are associated with mentees’ creative achievement. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 11, 440-450.

Funke, C. (2003). Tintenherz [Inkheart]. Hamburg, Germany: Cessilie Dressler.

Fürst, G., Ghisletta, P., & Lubart, T. (2017). An experimental study of the creative process in writing. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 11, 202–215.

Hekkert, P., & Van Wieringen, P. C. W. (1996). Beauty in the eye of expert and nonexpert beholders: A study in the appraisal of art. The American Journal of Psychology, 10, 389-407.

Hohendahl, P. U. (1973). Promoter, Konsumenten und Kritiker: Zur Rezeption des Bestsellers [Promoters, consumers and critics: To the reception of the bestseller]. In J. Grimm, Reinhold; Hermand (Ed.), 4th Wisconsin Workshop (pp. 169–209). Madison, WI: Athenäum.

Horn, D., & Salvendy, G. (2006a). Consumer-based assessment of product creativity: A review and reappraisal. Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing, 16, 155-175.

Horn, D., & Salvendy, G. (2006b). Product creativity: conceptual model, measurement and characteristics. Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science, 7, 395–412. https://doi.org/10.1080/14639220500078195

Horn, D., & Salvendy, G. (2009). Measuring consumer perception of product creativity: Impact on satisfaction and purchasability. Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing, 19, 223–240.

Kamphuis, J. (1991). Satisfaction with books: Some empirical findings. Poetics, 20, 471–485.

Kaufman, J. C., & Baer, J. (2012). Beyond new and appropriate: Who decides what is creative? Creativity Research Journal, 24, 83–91. https://doi.org/10.1080/10400419.2012.649237

Kaufman, J. C., Baer, J., & Cole, J. C. (2009). Expertise, domains, and the Consensual Assessment Technique. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 43, 223–233. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2162-6057.2009.tb01316.x

Keuschnigg, M. (2012). Das Bestseller-Phänomen: Die Entstehung von Nachfragekonzentration im Buchmarkt [The bestseller phenomenon: The emergence of demand concentration in the book market]. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-531-93499-0_2

Lauterbach, B. R. (1979). Bestseller: Produktions- und Verkaufsstrategien [Bestseller: Production and sales strategies]. Tübingen: Tübinger Vereinigung für Volkskunde.

Lu, C.-C., & Luh, D.-B. (2012). A comparison of assessment methods and raters in product creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 24, 331–337. https://doi.org/10.1080/10400419.2012.730327

MacCallum, R. C., Widaman, K. F., Zhang, S., & Hong, S. (1999). Sample size in factor analysis. Psychological Methods, 4, 84–99.

Mandler, J. M., & Ritchey, G. H. (1977). Long-term memory for pictures. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning & Memory, 3, 386–396. https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7393.3.4.386

Martindale, C. (1990). The clockwork muse: The predictability of artistic change. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Martindale, C. (1995). Fame more fickle than fortune: On the distribution of literary eminence. Poetics, 23, 219–234. https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-422X(94)00026-3

Martindale, C. (2007). Creativity, primordial cognition, and personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 1777–1785.

Martindale, C., Brewer, W. F., Helson, R., Rosenberg, S., Simonton, D. K., Keeley, A., Leigh, J., & Ohtsuka, K. (1988). Structure, theme, style, and reader response in Hungarian and American short stories. In C. Martindale (Ed.), Psychological approaches to the study of literary narratives (pp. 267–289). Hamburg: Helmut Buske Verlag.

Meyer, S. (2005). Twilight. New York, NY: Little, Brown.

Michael, W. B., Rosenthal, B. G., & De Camp, M. A. (1949). An experimental investigation of prestige-suggestion for two types of literary material. The Journal of Psychology, 28, 303–323. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223980.1949.9916012

Nell, V. (1988). The psychology of reading for pleasure: Needs and gratifications. Reading Research Quarterly, 23, 6–50. https://doi.org/10.2307/747903

O’Quin, K., & Besemer, S. P. (1989). The development, reliability, and validity of the revised Creative Product Semantic Scale. Creativity Research Journal, 2, 267–278. https://doi.org/10.1080/10400418909534323

O’Quin, K., & Besemer, S. P. (2006). Using the Creative Product Semantic Scale as a metric for results-oriented business. Creativity and Innovation Management, 15, 34–44. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8691.2006.00367.x

Paton, E. (2012). “When the book takes over”: Creativity, the writing process and flow in Australian fiction writing. The International Journal of Creativity & Problem Solving, 22, 61–76.

Plucker, J. A., Kaufman, J. C., & Temple, J. S. (2009). Do experts and novices evaluate movies the same way? Psychology & Marketing, 26, 470–478.

Rietzschel, E., Nijstad, B. A., & Stroebe, W. (2010). The selection of creative ideas after individual idea generation: Choosing between creativity and impact. British Journal of Psychology, 101, 47–68. https://doi.org/10.1348/000712609X414204

Rollka, B. (1975). Vom Elend der Literaturkritik: Buchwerbung und Buchbesprechungen in der Welt am Sonntag [About the misery of literary criticism: book advertising and book reviews in the Welt am Sonntag]. Berlin: Volker Spiess.

Rowling, J. K. (1997). Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. London, UK: Bloomsbury.

Runco, M. A., & Acar, S. (2012). Divergent thinking as an indicator of creative potential. Creativity Research Journal, 24, 66–75.

Runco, M. A., & Jaeger, G. J. (2012). The standard definition of creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 24, 92–96.

Runco, M. A., Plucker, J. A., & Lim, W. (2001). Development and psychometric integrity of a measure of ideational behavior. Creativity Research Journal, 13, 393–400. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15326934CRJ1334_16

Sachs, J. S. (1974). Memory in reading and listening to discourse. Memory & Cognition, 2, 95–100. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03197498

Scherer, M. R. (1994). The influences of the relationship between primary and secondary process content on aesthetic success in novels. Empirical Studies of the Arts, 12, 159–172. https://doi.org/10.2190/D156-0C3R-F5KG-RBQE

Schmidt-Stölting, C., Blömeke, E., & Clement, M. (2011). Success drivers of fiction books: An empirical analysis of hardcover and paperback editions in Germany. Journal of Media Economics, 24, 24–47. https://doi.org/10.1080/08997764.2011.549428

Simonton, D. K. (1986). Popularity, content, and context in 37 Shakespeare plays. Poetics, 15, 493–510. https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-422X(86)90008-2

Simonton, D. K. (1988). Aesthetic success in 36 Hungarian and American short stories. In C. Martindale (Ed.), Psychological approaches to the study of literary narratives (pp. 66–73). Hamburg: Helmut Buske Verlag.

Simonton, D. K. (1990). Lexical choices and aesthetic success: A computer content analysis of 154 Shakespeare sonnets. Computers and the Humanities, 24, 251–264. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00123412

Simonton, D. K. (2012). Taking the U.S. patent office criteria seriously: A quantitative three-criterion creativity definition and its implications. Creativity Research Journal, 24, 97–106.

Smith, B. L. (1993). Interpersonal behaviors that damage the productivity of creative problem solving groups. Journal of Creative Behavior, 27, 171–187. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2162-6057.1993.tb00705.x

Sorensen, A. T. (2007). Bestseller lists and product variety. The Journal of Industrial Economics, 55, 715–738. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6451.2007.00327.x

Staw, B. M. (1995). Why no one really wants creativity. In C. M. Ford & D. Gioia (Eds.), Creative action in organizations (pp. 161–166). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Stokmans, M. J. W. (1999). Reading attitude and its effect on leisure time reading. Poetics, 26, 245–261. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0304-422X(99)00005-4

Sutherland, J. (1981). Bestsellers: Popular Fiction of the 1970s. Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Tolkien, J. R. R. (1937). The Hobbit. George Allen & Unwin.

Torrance, E. P. (2008). Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking: Norms-technical manual, verbal forms A and B. Bensenville, IL: Scholastic Testing Service.

Van Rees, C. J. (1983). How a literacy work becomes a masterpiece: On the threefold selection practised by literary criticism. Poetics, 12, 397–417. https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-422X(83)90015-3

Van Rees, C. J. (1987). How reviewers reach consensus on the value of literary works. Poetics, 16, 275–294. https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-422X(87)90008-8

Verdaasdonk, H. (1983). Social and economic factors in the attribution of literary quality. Poetics, 12, 383–395. https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-422X(83)90014-1

White, A., Shen, F., & Smith, B. L. (2002). Judging advertising creativity using the creative product semantic scale. Journal of Creative Behavior, 36, 241–253. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2162-6057.2002.tb01067.x

Journal Information


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 24 24 24
PDF Downloads 22 22 22