31 thoughts on “The Complexity of the Creative Personality

  • February 3, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    So she claims that creative people can be both extroverted and introverted, humble and proud, smart and naïve, have great physical energy alternating with a great need for quiet and rest…

    Except that these characteristics are universal for everybody, aren’t they? 🙂
    Come to think about it – no one is 100% introvert all the time, right? People tend to exert different characteristics in different situations. And most certainly of all – who would not need quiet and rest after a busy day? :))

  • February 4, 2011 at 10:02 am

    I am highly driven to make a difference in the world. Does that mean I am androgenous? I was born dancing, writing and singing….have written my memoir (Ghost Child to Triumph) and a poetry book, Sanctuary of the Soul.

    One of my passions is to get the message out there how abuse affects all areas of our society. I won a scholarship because of what I wrote about my life, and am in school (counseling) at age 64.

    Kind Regards, Alicia

  • February 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    The qualities you list as being those which creative personalities exhibit are astoundingly accurate, in my own self. I feel it’s really important for people to realize that just because someone is different than what they may perceive as being “normal” or what is the socially-accepted norm, does not mean they are to be looked down upon. I write this in mind of creative personalities not giving into gender stereotypes and as a result, acting in a sort of androgynous way, which in school, can result in bullying from others by acting too feminine for boys and too masculine for girls.

  • February 4, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    I hope that you will be able to read this Mr. Eby because I was deeply moved by the accuracy of the above statements and how well I was able to relate with everything you mentioned.I am known to be a very creative person and every single thing you mentioned is so relevant to my life, its as if your writing in words-to some extent, my inner self. I sincerely applaud your efforts in this study, and I am very impressed!:D

  • February 6, 2011 at 5:08 am

    So if I can relate to all of those qualities listed… how should I go about developing whatever it is that I have? From my perspective, I’m good with coming up with ideas. I just haven’t any passions nor any other skills with which I can do something with.

  • February 7, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Hi Doug,

    Thanks for referencing my blog post with Csikszentmihalyi’s generic description of the creative personality. Based on the amount of email I’ve received from people who were led there through your blog, and their almost unanimous mention of the word “comfort,” there are a lot of creative people out there who feel misunderstood by family, friends, therapists, employers, etc., and who need affirmation for who they are and help in developing their gifts. Comfort and a boost in confidence were exactly what I felt when first reading that years ago.

    Best wishes,

  • February 7, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Nikolay, I think the difference is the EXTENT of the extroversion/introversion, male/female, smart/naive.

    It is the THOROUGHNESS, in my opinion, of having both characteristics that is key to highly creative people. It is not “being introverted, but sometimes not minding people”. It is REALLY getting your energy from people until you REALLY don’t.

    It is not merely “being female, but wanting to win a game”, it is so thoroughly masculine traits with feminine traits. The tough aggressive male who also has enough precision and delicacy to be able to differentiate similar shades of the same color and have a true desire to nurture others.

    It is like you are both each extreme and know it is not “well, everyone feels such and such from time to time”, but knowing all parts of you are on full blast–you are amazingly and fully BOTH at the same time.

    I might be amiss in my reading, but this is what I imagine the author and Csikszentmihalyi might have been saying.

    My question would be: does this suit with creative people WITH high IQ’s only? With people who are high IQ, but not terribly creative? Or people who are highly creative, of any IQ level?

  • February 9, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Sounds a lot like bipolar disorder … and while bipolar people are more often creative than not-bipolar people, there are still plenty of not-bipolar creative people.

    Or, we look at it as less extreme, and we say, okay, everyone does that to some degree or another, so everyone is creative to some degree or another, which I think is true, and what I’d like this guy with the unpronounceable name to focus on next is whether those two things correspond: are massively creative people more prone to the almost-bipolar drives to solitude and company?

  • February 9, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    @Nikolay — everybody has a combination of attributes, otherwise they wouldn’t function in everyday life. The author is saying these kinds of people switch between the extremes. Most people don’t just go from one extreme to the other.

  • February 9, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    I agree with Nikolay.
    This genuinely sounds like some one selling bull-huey for a quick buck. The first thing I thought after reading this was something along the lines of how weak-minded this seems.
    How manly a girl is or how lady-like a boy may be has nothing to do with creativity, much less anything else. You’re just trying to group everyone together unnecessarily!
    I know “manly” jocks who love beer and wrestling that have art shows once a month! Also, what of fashion designing women? Are they not feminine enough? Is that not an art form?
    I, for one, am offended by this.

  • February 12, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Hi! This was very interesting reading, I had never really considered androgyny as key aspect of creativity, but when you think about it, it really makes sense doesn’t it? If you’re reading this and are interested in creativity and how this interacts with different aspects of your behaviour, it would be fantastic if you could fill out my survey for my university dissertation. Just click on this link:
    http://nclpsych.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_5psPFoW3aEnPA1u Or, if this doesn’t work, copy and paste it into your address bar. If you know anyone else/any other forums that are interested in this kind of thing it would be great if you could pass it on to them. Thank you so much! 🙂

  • February 14, 2011 at 2:06 am

    I know a lot of people have commented that this seems similar to the vague positive claims Astrology makes, but I do know what this feels like firsthand, and it is not normal.

    For once, I have an explanation for my weird-ness that doesn’t involve a “mild” form of some other disease! Wow.

    This post came at exactly the right time for me. I am an art student @ university, and I am having such a hard time with the social/asocial aspect, as my “need for quiet time and solitude” in a big college like this often equates to a total void when it comes time for me to actually seek out company… Well, not total, but close enough. Everyone wants to be so continuously busy in their relationships, they’re not used to the kind of weird breaks I take. I’m aware of that difference and it makes me very self-conscious. But at the same time, no one’s opinion really bothers me, at least until I convince myself that I must be insane for not being relatively normal in the first place. “Something must be wrong with me.”

    I would like to see what further research has to say about IQ, these other linked extremes, and creativity. I feel like hyper-creativity is just the end product of being extra-capable at integrating information. I mean, if you can see more of the wires at one time, there are more and different connections you’re able to make, right?

  • February 16, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    When I was in school and first introduced to the concept of paradigms and thinking “outside the box,” it truly confused me. I had to ask several questions, and by listening to the other students’ questions I finally got a glimpse of why I felt I was a bit odd. That my simple comments I took as merely stating the obvious often elicited unanticipated reactions.

    I finally understood that most everyone else was confining their perceptions and understanding of the world within a “box” of conceived reality I did not share.

    My struggle isn’t thinking outside the box – it is in determining the boundaries of the box and trying to think within it. This exercise has helped me to understand and empathize with others much better, but I have no desire to live in there.

  • February 16, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    A comment on society vs. the creative mind:

    Artistic creativity that fits into a category and style “we” recognize as art is usually encouraged, whereas the avant-garde, well is labeled as such and appreciated by only a few.

    Creative thinking about who we are, what is the truth about history, powers within our societies, motivations, and our very nature as a species are often strongly discouraged.

    I understand how conformity helps bind a society together, and that paradigms probably need to be slow to change. For instance, wild swings in public policy would make daily living choices and business planning almost impossible – we need to be able to make certain assumptions about the future with a reasonable degree of confidence.

    So, the creative mind’s challenges to what constitutes the “truth” will probably always be met with skepticism and general resistance – and perhaps that is a good and necessary thing.

  • March 1, 2011 at 1:20 am

    I’m inclined to agree with those of you who mentioned that the traits listed by this writer are universal. Indeed, it seems a quality that is essential to the human species is self contradiction. Everyone I’ve met personally, is self-contradictory. This post offers consolidation to those seeking a way to validate their sense of alienation; a thirst, I believe, we all possess (which is why this article seems so personal to whoever reads it). “Yeah, that’s me!,” you want to say, but the truth is “creativity” is part of being human. There is no such thing as an uncreative person. They may not be painting or sculpting or playing some exotic instrument under the moon, but being creative isn’t restricted to producing a masterpiece. Perhaps their creativity is manifested in a way you haven’t developed the ability to recognize yet. Hey, not everyone “gets” a rock on a stool, but some call it art. However, it’s important that those who do feel alienated because they’re..ahem…human, feel welcome in their own skin, so I suppose there’s no harm done.

  • March 13, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    This study may shed some light on the subject: apparently, there is a link between higher in utero testosterone and gifted children. Could explain the “androgenous” women association…although I also suspect that qualities of intelligence, self-assurance, etc. are still considered so “male” in our culture that there is a strong sexism component as well.


  • March 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Maybe a certain percentage of people are not all that affected by social norms and etc and this is why they appear to function as noted in this article. In other words maybe this is our true human nature coming through and it only appears paradoxical in the realm of “normal”.

  • April 11, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Out of 400 people on the Herman-something or other test, I/we scored 2nd highest. You say “Instead of being an individual, they are a multitude.” We have multiples (alters). We have always been rated as the ‘most creative’ in art classes, and in engineering design. We are proof of your conclusions in every way. (Bisexual, etc – the whole list.). Being MPD just adds – and supports – your conclusions about our dual natures (humble yet proud, etc). Fascinating – because creative people also like to learn! 😀

  • May 8, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    yep, I’m creative (and an INFJ) and am constantly judged as being weird, aloof, and possibly mentally ill. Society loves to label people and often it’s totally wrong, way way off base. Really identify with Zenna’s comments!! Glad to have found all these articles on the creative personality and learn there are others out there like me:)

  • June 1, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Describes me to a t. Sensual tomboy. Art oozing out of me like a popsicle on hot asphalt.

  • June 2, 2011 at 2:37 am

    Funny thing about this is that I found it on StumbleUpon a few weeks ago and thought it was interesting, but moved on.

    Then earlier today, my boyfriend told me he’d found a set of traits that perfectly described me and texted each paradoxical quality to me and told me it’s me in a nutshell.

    I disagree that the list is highly-generalized. Sure, humans as a whole are contradicting, paradoxical creatures, but it’s really an oddity to perfectly balance between the two sides of each quality mentioned.

    The more I think about it, the less people fit into this list. It’s not that other people aren’t creative because everybody possesses creativity, but people that are predominately, outwardly creative and thrive off of their own creativity are the ones this set of traits targets.

  • September 22, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Nikolay, you’re wrong. Bruce is referring to extremes. Not everyone is both extremely extroverted AND introverted. This does however correlate with Manic Depression.

  • September 27, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Those are observable facts but we also have to remember that our creative minds have the ability to alter those characteristics creatively. Creative peoples’ gifts can also be a curse if left unchecked and controlled; after all it is still the mind that creates what we are.

  • October 3, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    This is why I’m so messy! I joke all the time that I’m domestically disabled. I’m not neat (I should take a picture of my desk just to show you what I’m talking about). Yeah, screw neatness most of the time. I will clean and be a clean freak from time to time, but usually, a little clutter doesn’t bother me.

    This explains it. I’m just going to go with this one. “It’s because I have a creative mind. It’s just how my brain works.” lol

    BTW – could someone please define “psychic”. It was used in the article, and it’s confusing to me what they meant by that. I don’t want to hear any new agey hooey either.

  • October 19, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    there may or may not be truth to the article’s larger point, but the items in the bullet-list are known as “Barnum statements” and are true for pretty much everyone.


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