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The term is used in at least three different meanings: 1) to adjust the self to fit environmental conditions through conformity, agreement, or compliance; 2) to acclimatize or apply experience to the use or selection of an environment to personal advantage; 3) to modify or transform the environment to suit the individual.

The dynamic interplay between a person and the environment is one of the most important factors in the analysis of creativity. It is essential to understand who or what is adapting and in what sense. One the one hand, the ability to adapt to an environment is traditionally considered (since, perhaps, Darwin) as a condition of creative behaviour. One the other hand, "If the individual regards the external world merely as something to which he has to adapt, rather than as something in which his subjectivity can find fulfilment, his individuality disappears and his life becomes meaningless" (Storr, 1988: 72). Creativity necessarily includes both adaptation and its opposite: "man's adaptation to the world is the result, paradoxically, of not being perfectly adjusted to the environment, of not being in a state of psychological equilibrium" (ibid., 197).

Cohen (1989) developed a scheme called the Continuum of adaptive creative behaviour addressing adaptation in context as well as the creative process itself. Kirton (1994) suggested that there are two poles of creative behaviour (adaptive and innovative) and developed a scale to measure cognitive style preferences, so called Kirton Adaptive-Innovative Inventory.

Adaptation. Dictionary of Creativity: Terms, Concepts, Theories & Findings in Creativity Research / Compiled and edited by Eugene Gorny., 2007.
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