Phares (1986) as cited in Runco (2007) defines personality as “that pattern of characteristic thoughts, feelings and behaviors that distinguishes one person from and that persists over time and situations”. Phares’ works well within my understanding of personality. It has been my experience that personalities rarely change outside of some unfortunate incident or necessity.
Feist (1998) determined that creative individuals have common tendencies and traits and that a “general creative personality” does exist and creative achievement can be related to it.
Some disagree with Feist’s conclusion. Mumford and Gustafson (1988) find personality to be at fault for an individual’s inability to convert ideas into action. I happen to also disagree with Feist. I don’t believe that all creative individuals share a common personality. The fact that we are not expectedly similar is a wonderful part of what makes us creative individuals.
Creative persons often have a playful mood or childlike tendency. This is usually indicative of spontaneity and self-actualization. It is now my belief (after attending and facilitating several creative problem solving sessions) that thinking and believing that anything is possible as we did when we were younger heightens our creative capability.
Intrinsic motivation is one of the more prominent characteristics of a creative individual. Runco (p. 37) discusses the work of Sir Francis Galton (1869), Nicholls (1983), MacKinnon(1962), Crutchfield (1962) and Golann (1963) and concludes in his analysis that all agree on this point.
Amabile (1996) makes mention of a more specific type of motivation (task motivation) as one of three necessary pieces for her componential theory, the other two being domain relevant skills and creativity relevant processes.
Runco states that Gardner (1993) believed the seven (7) persons he studied during his development of the initial multiple intelligences all were consummate creators who possessed a significant degree of perseverance. Additionally, Runco defined a similar attribute of persistence as “the willingness to expend effort” (p. 295).
Perseverance and persistence are two more traits listed in a creative person’s personality repertoire. This is justified by the 10 year rule. 10 years is the length of time considered necessary for one to gain the knowledge necessary for a given field or domain to be considered an expert (Runco, p. 37).
In addition to the ones listed, confidence, sensitivity, autonomy, flexibility, tolerance of ambiguity, risk taking, psychological androgyny, values and self-efficacy may be found among traits, tendencies or characteristics which may be combined within a creative individual.
Surprisingly or not, it is possible to possess all the recognized traits of a creative individual and to not behave in a creative manner. I find this to be a sad realization that one can be filled with all the aids to be creative and make a cognizant choice to not make use of them. I believe that it is much more common for an individual to be unaware that within her is everything she needs to be creative.
As I have come to learn as a student of creative studies, we are all creative but may demonstrate our ability differently.
Amabile, T. (2001, April). Beyond Talent. American Psychologist, 56(4), 333-336. Retrieved February 10, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.
Conti, R., Coon, H., & Amabile, T. (1996). Evidence to Support the Componential Model of Creativity: Secondary Analyses of Three Studies. Creativity Research Journal, 9(4), 385. Retrieved February 27, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.
Parnes, S.(Ed.) 1992. Sourcebook for creative problem solving: A fifty year digest of proven innovation processes. (pp. 164-200). Creative Education Foundation Press. Hadley, MA.
Runco, M. (2007). Creativity theories and themes: research, development and practice. Burlington, MA. Elsevier Academic Press.