This article aims to address the issue of what context is and how it can be incorporated in psychological theory by using the case study of creativity research. It starts from a basic definition of context as the spatiotemporal continuum that, together with psychological phenomena, constitutes a totality and should be considered a single, integrated whole. As such, contexts are neither subjective, existing only in perception, nor are they a set of variables external to the person, but participate directly in the processes under study in psychology. We can therefore distinguish between “flat” theorising, one-dimensional and overconcerned with intra-psychological factors, and “3-D” models trying to articulate the psychological, the spatial (sociomaterial), and the temporal. These categories are illustrated by different theoretical approaches to creativity. It is argued here that a cultural psychological perspective on this phenomenon leads to a more “radical” contextualisation by focusing on extended actors, continuous action, dynamic artefacts, evolving audiences, and cumulative affordances. In the end, a short discussion of what contextual frameworks can offer us and the challenges we come against in establishing them is provided.
Theory and Psychology, 2014, Vol 24, Issue 3, p. 382-398