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Surprising Science

Creative People Use Multiple Personality Traits to Help Their Process

A group of psychologists are trying to give order to the creative process, presenting an “integrative model of creativity that includes personality traits and cognitive processes.”

Creative folks are a series of extremes—even contradictory at times. They have the capacity to be overly critical of their work and then switch to having a high sense of self. It’s hard for psychologists quantify the “creative process,” organizing all of these emotions and thoughts into a concrete method, though, many have tried.

Scott Barry Kaufman from the Scientific American writes on a group of psychologists, Guillaume Furst, Paolo Ghisletta, and Todd Lubart, who have presented an “integrative model of creativity that includes personality traits and cognitive processes.” Their hypothesis was presented in a paper published in The Journal of Creative Behavior.

The team believes they’ve pinpointed three “super-factors” of creative personality types that include Plasticity, Divergence, and Convergence. These types varied in their prominence from person to person, but were heightened at differed stages in the creative process.

Plasticity involves an openness to explore—to seek out new experiences for inspiration. The researchers also put extroversion and high-energy under this category. Divergence describes a predisposition to not conform and to be impulsive. There also many be a tendency to be a bit condescending toward others, but that could be a predisposition toward independent thinking. Convergence traits include heightened ambition, persistence, and attention to detail.

Researchers argue that different personality traits combine and change depending on what stage they are in the creative process, which is divided into two categories: Generation and Selection.

Generation is all about brainstorming original ideas. Creative types benefit from the combination of Plasticity and Divergence traits to help inspire and find new or evolved ideas. The selection process digs deeper into what has been brainstormed, allowing creatives to critique each idea to find one of value. Researchers say that this phase is more heavily associated with Convergence, which gives creatives a way to doubt and persist, rework and fine-tune their product until they’re satisfied.

It also sounds rather schizophrenic, being able to jump from loving an idea to hating every piece and reworking it. The process sounds like an exhausting emotional roller coaster of ideas and perseverance, but researchers say each stage and type helps those, who have that creative bent, to succeed. Indeed, creativity is messy.

Read more at Scientific American

Photo Credit: Noelle Buske/Flickr


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