Extrovert or Introvert?

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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 of research showed  that “creativity is particularly related to the personality domain of openness to experience.”[5] Of course this comes as no surprise. A person’s openness to experience is evidenced by showing a wide range of interests,  exhibiting aesthetic appreciation and judging in an unconventional manner. All of these are attributes we connect with originality.  But he also discovered another connection, scores on intelligence test increase with scores on the openness to experience scale of the Five Factor Model.  However he found that intelligence is strongly linked to increased introversion, while creativity is not. “it appears that both creativity and intelligence are related to openness, whereas intelligence independent of creativity is associated with introversion.”[5]

To score high in openness to experience the participant must describe themselves as intellectual, analytic, original, and innovative. Both intelligence as measured by IQ and creativity is elevated when this score is higher.  But intelligent people also have higher introversion scores. Why? Creativity is not just a test of achievement, but a comparison to show that achievement is original or divergent from what currently exists. If you want to be known for originality, at some point you have to let everyone know that you are doing something different. The measurement of a creativity depends on the culture as well as the person.

According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who has followed the life of creative individuals in long term research:

Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted. We’re usually one or the other, either preferring to be in the thick of crowds or sitting on the sidelines and observing the passing show. In fact, in psychological research, extroversion and introversion are considered the most stable personality traits that differentiate people from each other and that can be reliably measured. Creative individuals, on the other hand, seem to exhibit both traits simultaneously.[6]

 [1] Sternberg, R.J. ed. Handbook of Creativity, Cambridge University Press
 [2] Fleenor, J. W. (1997). The relationship between the MBTI and measures of personality and performance in management groups. InC. Fitzgerald & L. Kirby (Eds.), Developing leaders: Research and applications in psychological type and leadership development  (p. 128). Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black Publishers.
 [3] Gough, Harrison. Studies of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator in a personality assessment research institute. Paper presented at the Fourth National Conference on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Stanford University, CA (July, 1981)
 [4] King, L.A. Walker, L.M. Broyles, S.J. Creativity and the Five-Factor Model. Journal of Research in Personality, Volume 30, Issue 2, Pages 189-203 (2013)
 [5] McCrae, R. R. Creativity, divergent thinking, and openness to experience, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 52(6), Jun 1987, 1258-1265
 [6] Csikszentmihalyi, M. The creative personality, published on July 01, 1996 – last reviewed on June 13, 2011
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