The origin of originality

Is creative talent a result of genetics, environment or …

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026f7386d86f1391f6f184682e8db927Start any discussions on the origin of creativity and you will quickly find the group divided. On one side people claim it is an innate trait. You are either born with or without it. Keep on pressing this faction and most will admit it is not exactly a black or white proposition, rather people are apparently born with varying amounts of creativity. They cite anecdotal examples of young children demonstrating precocious creative ability that grow up to be a great artists, composers, or inventors–such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

On the other hand there are people who see creativity as a skill that can be taught. Now while many of these people are attempting to advance their own curriculum for developing it, not all are. They commonly view the ability to come up with original, useful ideas as our best chance at solving humankind’s problems. They refer to examples of children…

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Optimist or pessimist

Is an artist usually optimistic or pessimistic?

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Eggs_Expressions_Happy_Sad1How does a person’s view of the world –optimistic or pessimistic–affect creativity? Psychologist have noted that the average human has a bias towards optimism. People live with the illusion that most situations will turn out better than they actually do. Unrealistic optimism seems to be the norm. On the other hand. pessimism may result in a darker than actual view of the future. Severely depressed people expect more problems than really do occur. The slightly depressed people tend to have the most realistic view of the future [1].

In the world of the ancient Greeks, the character of authors, artists, and composers was often connected with melancholy, a sense of pervasive sadness. In modern times, philosophical pessimism seems rampant among creative people. Just look at the life and work of Miguel de Cervantes, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Joseph Conrad, Richard Wagner, Edward Munch,  Thomas Mann,  Jorge Luis Borges and Albert Camus. However…

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Creative styles – what’s in fashion now?

Leave no one behind…

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dec steph 199aDoes creativity equate with keeping up with the latest trends? I wince a bit at this thought and realize how many people assume “early adopter” is same as creativity. I realize that no one come’ s up with ideas in a vacuum. We must all build on the past and avoid the building something so disconnected to the current world that it is utterly incomprehensible. However creativity is really defined by starting trends, rather than following them.

Now that creativity has become a valued ability it seems cruel to for anyone to be left out. It is no longer the domain of the eccentric inventors, impractical daydreamers, and those living in garrets on the edge of poverty. Many claim everyone should have the possibility of being creative. But, if you look at any group some people generate far more unique ideas and original work than others do.

The latest trend…

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Creativity and the blame game

Why do creative people receive more blame?

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Hendrick_ter_Brugghen_blame 4The emphasis on creativity as a way to provide an economic boost has been followed by a plethora of publications on how to be more creative. But taking those ideas to heart may not be the best move. More than one study has shown that expressing creative ideas  hurts a person’s chances of being considered leadership material.

Wharton Business College and Cornell University found that people judged creative by their colleagues were also seen as having less leadership potential than their peers with ordinary ideas. Another study attempted to determine exactly why this occurred. This second study required college students to watch other students pitch solutions to a problem. Some of the proposals were both original and useful, fitting the definition of creative ideas. A second set of students try to sell ordinary, well-known ideas. It really was the creativity of the ideas, not the  personal warmth, or competence of…

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Personality per the ancient Greeks

Where did this idea actually start?

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kachina_paper dolls 4 copyMany of the most current personality tests are built on older theories—sometimes much older theories. Around 2400 years ago, the physician Hippocrates described his idea that human moods were caused by an excess or lack of basic body fluids. Too much blood and you became giddy and talkative, too little and you would become morose. Feeling lazy? Blame it on too much phlegm. He probably borrowed this ideas from someone before him whose name we no longer know.

Although this was not a sound medical observation, the idea of four different temperaments caught on and has hung on for millennia. The word temperament comes  from the same word as tempera paint and means to mix. So philosophers, physicians and psychologist kept mixing four different factors to obtain their palette of personalities.

According to the ancients Greeks these were:

  • Choleric—ambitious, energetic, aggressive, even tyrannical.
  • Sanguine—charismatic, impulsive, pleasure loving and self-indulgent.
  • Phlegmatic—observant…

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Personality per the ancient Greeks

Write about what?

kachina_paper dolls 4 copyMany of the most current personality tests are built on older theories—sometimes much older theories. Around 2400 years ago, the physician Hippocrates described his idea that human moods were caused by an excess or lack of basic body fluids. Too much blood and you became giddy and talkative, too little and you would become morose. Feeling lazy? Blame it on too much phlegm. He probably borrowed this ideas from someone before him whose name we no longer know.

Although this was not a sound medical observation, the idea of four different temperaments caught on and has hung on for millennia. The word temperament comes  from the same word as tempera paint and means to mix. So philosophers, physicians and psychologist kept mixing four different factors to obtain their palette of personalities.

According to the ancients Greeks these were:

  • Choleric—ambitious, energetic, aggressive, even tyrannical.
  • Sanguine—charismatic, impulsive, pleasure loving and self-indulgent.
  • Phlegmatic—observant…

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Extrovert or Introvert?

One confusing trait of creativity…

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 “One of the more consistent findings from the personality literature of artists is that they tend to be rather introverted” [1]

It seems logical for the creative people, particularly the artist, writer, and composer, to be introverted individuals.  They are willing to spend long hours alone working to produce a masterpiece. Society has a tendency to see them as eccentric and unsociable.  J. W. Fleenors research using the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, showed a rise in creativity ratings by others connected with a rise in introversion.[2]

On the other hand some research results have found a link between higher extraversion and higher creativity. Harrison Gough found this correlation using the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator[3] as did L.A. King using the Five Factor Model .[4] The place of the creative persons in the introvert-extrovert continuum seems  inconclusive.

Robert McCrae used divergent thinking to determine levels of creativity and his review…

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A twist in traits

The creative Myers-Briggs type is…

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dec steph 104The Meyer’s Brigg Type Inventory (MBTI) is probably  one of the most widely known personality type assessments. Isabel Briggs Meyers and her mother Katharine Cook Briggs developed it from theories recorded by the well know psychologist Carl Jung. Neither Meyers or Briggs were trained in psychology or psychometric testing, but they did their homework, and learned from people who were. The MBTI was never promoted as a precise psychological test but more of a type sorter to help people understand those that had differing responses to the world around them.

So naturally people would use this inventory to try to determine the personality markers of a creative person.  But this has not been easy. When David W. Keirsey, author of the book Please Understand Me based on the work of Meyers and Briggs, reviewed the types he deduced that  the creative artisan personality was likely to exhibit the following:

  • Introversion…

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Don’t like criticism? You might feel the same way about creativity.

An unfortunate companion to creativity…

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647px-BitterkaelderSoed_edited-1 Illustration Ravnen 1890, Public Domain

Alex Osborn, known for founding the Creative Problem-Solving Institute, set up a structure for group creative brainstorming. One rule to free people from creative inhibitions forbid criticism and judgment during initial brainstorming. [1]

There is no need to guess why. People tend to champion their own ideas at the expense of better ideas. It only takes a small minority set on “defending their turf” to have a detrimental effect.

Ask educators the way to encourage creativity and they will tell you students need an environment full of stimuli. They will also say the classroom should have an open, accepting atmosphere, free from criticism to build up self-esteem. Ask people noted for work in creative fields, and they will agree with the need for a stimulating environment, but not with the lack of criticism.

While interviewing college art and educations majors about factors leading to creativity…

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Creative Semantics

If creativity just a matter of choosing the right words?

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055 monitor brain

 Early psychology was considered a science that dealt with the causes and treatment of mental illness. Famed psychologist such as Sigmund Freud worked with neurotic and psychotic patients. His theories of psychoanalysis and resulting model of mental structure were based on his work with his patients and his own inner struggles. Freud’s own life experiences wielded one of the strongest influences on his theory of personality.

But psychology based on one person’s experiences is not enough. U.S. Air Force Personnel Laboratory became involved in developing a model to show the broad spectrum of people’s personalities in the 1960s. Ernest Tupes and Raymond Christal developed the Five Factor Model of personality. They reviewed other’s research to find a set of traits that would form this model. Still they clung to the idea of psychology showing the differences between healthy and unhealthy traits. The names that they gave each factor–Surgency…

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