Now that innovation is essential to business, the educational institutions are attempting to encourage rather than quash creativity. With the revival of creativity as a money-making traits comes the recurring discussion of the how difficult creative people are. So what exactly makes creative people unlikeable for much of the population? Recent research at the University of North Carolina (Silvia et al, 2011) pinpointed the offensive characteristic–arrogance.
Similar to other research, Silvia’s study used college students who self-reported their creative abilities and personality traits. A lot of the traits measured using the five factor model did not seem to matter. Creative people described themselves as both extroverted and introverted, emotional and rational, conscientious and unconcerned. The agreeableness did not seem to have a bearing on creativity either, except for one aspect.
Highly creative students scored lower than average on the honesty-humility scale. They were simply more arrogant. According to the study “This finding is consistent with past work on arrogance, which is captured by the pretentiousness and immodesty defined by low honesty-humility.” Even though creative people can cooperate and are not overly hostile, their feeling of entitlement because of their perception of higher ability irks others.
This characteristic is not the same as narcissism. Narcissistic people rate themselves more highly in leadership and performance than others and responded with violent behaviors when their ego is threatened. Arrogance is a type of social interaction rather than a consistently held internal perception. Arrogance shows up in the company of others by exaggerating one’s own importance and being critical of other people. The person who shows arrogance may actually have a lower than average self-esteem.
However, arrogance in creative individuals tend to be countered by a greater openness to experience, which correlates to a willingness to accept other’s ideas–but not all of them. In this case there is a feeling of superior judgment. Creative people do not defend their own ideas as much as their own judgment. They can sympathize and compromise with others, but they still believe that they know better.
And, we don’t like people who think they know better.