The Calculated Creative

The Most Creative Personality Type

The "most creative type" defies narrow categories and stereotypes about eccentric artists and scatterbrained creators.

We often hear that certain personality types, like the "tortured artist" or the "absent-minded creator" are the most creative.

But the research paints a different picture.

Here's a few personality traits that may actually lead to the most creativity:

Creativity Thrives with Openness to New Experiences

  • The most highly creative people tend to score very high in openness to experience on standardized personality assessments. This factor refers to a general curiosity towards new experiences, ideas, perspectives, and intellectual exploration.
  • Individuals with a high degree of openness tend to have a vivid imagination, aesthetic sensitivity, attentiveness to their own feelings, a preference for variety, and intellectual curiosity. They are open to trying new things, new types of people, new values and perspectives, and they dislike strict rules and regimented structure.
  • Too much tradition, structure, and convention can inhibit the problem-solving abilities and creative thinking processes for those high in openness. Environments that are rigid and authoritarian tend to stifle their experimentation, freedom of thought, and willingness to entertain new ideas.
  • To nurture high levels of creativity, we need to provide some degree of intellectual freedom and autonomy, encourage people to think outside the box, provide opportunities for experimentation, and cultivate curiosity and imaginative thinking. The most innovative ideas emerge when people feel they have permission to color outside the lines.

Conscientiousness Channels Creativity Into Tangible Outcomes

  • While openness to experience provides the starting spark for new ideas and innovations, conscientiousness helps channel that creativity into tangible products, outcomes, and solutions.
  • Conscientiousness refers to a person's level of organization, persistence, motivation, and goal-directed behavior. Highly conscientious people tend to be responsible, orderly, reliable, diligent, and achievement-oriented. They care about producing results and turning new ideas into reality.
  • The combination of high openness and high conscientiousness balances radical thinking with pragmatic execution. Highly conscientious people provide the discipline, attention detail, planning, and persistence needed to bring innovative ideas conceived by highly open people to fruition.
  • To promote creativity, we need visionaries to spark new ideas as well as meticulous shapers to refine concepts into their best possible forms. Pairing those with high openness with those high in conscientiousness creates a dynamic innovation ecosystem.

Contrarians Spark New Thinking and Drive Progress

  • While temperamental "tortured artists" are often seen as the most creative, many of history's most groundbreaking innovators were non-conformists and contrarians who questioned conventional norms.
  • Contrarians possess a counter-cultural streak that leads them to dissent from mainstream perspectives. By nature, they turn issues upside down and inside out to arrive at radically different conclusions. They challenge assumptions, spark debate, and drive entirely new schools of thought.
  • To boost creativity and innovation, organizations need to make space for constructive rule-breakers rather than dismissing them as problematic. Team leaders should encourage respectful dissent, issue radical thinkers a thoughtful platform, and be open to alternative perspectives that may seem misguided at first glance.
  • The most astonishing innovations in history came from questioning the status quo, listening to marginal voices, and seeking out those bothersome contrarian views. That is where the seeds of progress take root. Creating a culture that embraces contrarians and constructive non-conformists leads to better innovation.

The Takeaway

The "most creative type" defies narrow categories and stereotypes about eccentric artists and scatterbrained creators.

True innovation emerges when we bring together open imagination, meticulous execution, and respectful yet subversive thinking.

Let's nurture those traits - openness, conscientiousness and contrarian thinking - in all people to drive creativity.

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