Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
No wonder employers want creative employees in areas where it is essential to come up with proposals for new products and services, and new ways of doing things.
The creative personality
Professor Øyvind L. Martinsen at BI Norwegian Business School has conducted a study to develop a personality profile for creative people: Which personality traits characterize creative people?
The study was conducted with 481 people with different backgrounds. The segment consists of various groups of more or less creative people.
The creativity researcher mapped the participants’ personality traits and tested their creative abilities and skills through various types of tasks.
Seven creativity characteristics
In his study Martinsen identifies seven paramount personality traits that characterize creative people:
• 1. Associative orientation: Imaginative, playful, have a wealth of ideas, ability to be committed, sliding transitions between fact and fiction.
• 2. Need for originality: Resists rules and conventions. Have a rebellious attitude due to a need to do things no one else does.
• 3. Motivation: Have a need to perform, goal-oriented, innovative attitude, stamina to tackle difficult issues.
• 4. Ambition: Have a need to be influential, attract attention and recognition.
• 5. Flexibility: Have the ability to see different aspects of issues and come up with optional solutions.
• 6. Low emotional stability: Have a tendency to experience negative emotions, greater fluctuations in moods and emotional state, failing self-confidence.
• 7. Low sociability: Have a tendency not to be very considerate, are obstinate and find faults and flaws in ideas and people.
Among the seven personality traits, associative orientation and flexibility are the factors that to the greatest extent lead to creative thinking.
“Associative orientation is linked to ingenuity. Flexibility is linked to insight,” says the professor. The other five characteristics describe emotional inclinations and motivational factors that influence creativity or spark an interest in creativity.
“The seven personality traits influence creative performance through inter-action,” Martinsen points out.
Øyvind L. Martinsen. The Creative Personality: A Synthesis and Development of the Creative Person Profile. Creativity Research Journal, 2011; 23 (3): 185 DOI: 10.1080/10400419.2011.595656
While at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, Oppezzo and colleague Daniel L. Schwartz, PhD, conducted studies involving 176 people, mostly college students. They found that those who walked instead of sitting or being pushed in a wheelchair consistently gave more creative responses on tests commonly used to measure creative thinking, such as thinking of alternate uses for common objects and coming up with original analogies to capture complex ideas. When asked to solve problems with a single answer, however, the walkers fell slightly behind those who responded while sitting, according to the study published in APA’s Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition.
While previous research has shown that regular aerobic exercise may protect cognitive abilities, these researchers examined whether simply walking could temporarily improve some types of thinking, such as free-flowing thought compared to focused concentration. “Asking someone to take a 30-minute run to improve creativity at work would be an unpopular prescription for many people,” Schwartz said. “We wanted to see if a simple walk might lead to more free-flowing thoughts and more creativity.”
Of the students tested for creativity while walking, 100 percent came up with more creative ideas in one experiment, while 95 percent, 88 percent and 81 percent of the walker groups in the other experiments had more creative responses compared with when they were sitting. If a response was unique among all responses from the group, it was considered novel. Researchers also gauged a participant’s total number of responses and whether a response was feasible and appropriate to the constraints of the task. For example, “Putting lighter fluid in soup is novel, but it is not very appropriate,” Oppezzo said.
Marily Oppezzo, Daniel L. Schwartz. Give your ideas some legs: The positive effect of walking on creative thinking.. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 2014; DOI: 10.1037/a0036577