Research in Brief: Creative Potential

Internal and External creative processing

According to the PBS American Masters series, Jimi Hendrix's early instruments were straw brooms.  His inner motivation, sensitivity to sound (and fantastic stage costumes) remind us of the many ways creativity manifests itself.  The study of creative personality has applications for all individuals not just those recognized as creatively gifted. 

  • Question:  What personal qualities correlate with the creative process?

Three researchers who study creativity offer the following insight.  Their review of creative personality research highlights the role of certain characteristics in the creative process: 

1.  "Some individuals prefer to adapt to external conditions and solve problems within existing rules, while others prefer to bend, ignore, or break rules to generate new ideas."

2.  Manners of processing can be Internal or External.  Externals "learn and work best when interacting, listening, and talking with others."  Internals "work and learn best alone, in a quiet environment, and will take advantage of opportunities for quiet concentration."

3.  "An individual's focus when making decisions falls on a continuum from Person to Task."  Those with a Person Focus "consider the personal impact or consequences of a decision.  They attend to relationships and seek harmony and consensus."  Those with a Task Focus "prefer rigor and/or quality over feelings and emotion.  When considering an option they tend to first consider what is wrong, what is lacking, or what improvements are needed." 

  • In short, the researchers remind us not to ask, "How creative is this student?"  but instead to ask, "How is this student creative?"

Read much more about creative personality attributes in the article: 
Selby, E.C., Shaw E. J. & Houtz, J.C. (2005).  The creative personality.  Gifted Child Quarterly, 49, 300-314. 

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Contact Information

Debra Lemieux

If Then Creativity



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