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April 28, 2012 12:47 AM   Subscribe

The Creative Personality: Ten paradoxical traits of the creative personality By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (via)
posted by infini (35 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
It kind of reminds me of a horoscope that almost anyone can apply to his or herself.

"Creative people are humble and proud at the same time."

Who isn't?
posted by Monday at 1:04 AM on April 28, 2012 [23 favorites]


Creativity is a trait.

And it's the only trait all creative people have in common.

Some things really are that simple.

Which is a bitch when you're trying to write a thousand-word essay.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:24 AM on April 28, 2012 [9 favorites]


Nifty. One of my philosophy mentors actually studied under this guy for a while in Taiwan.

Sadly, in order for this to be pertinent, you have to actually get the rest of the argumentation, which the website sadly edited out. This has less to do with "Yay happy fun creativity booster read" and more to do with philosophy of action.

Unfortunately, I don't have the text on me, otherwise I would elucidate a little more. Maybe Google Scholar...
posted by donquixote at 1:30 AM on April 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Isn't this everyone? Are there people who aren't creative in some manner?
posted by Hicksu at 1:40 AM on April 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Everything on that list applies to everyone who's ever lived. Typical Czskymehasdhweioz;oaisd^7pufdfioypglihaly.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:59 AM on April 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and "philosophy".
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:59 AM on April 28, 2012


It's like a horoscope!
posted by hypersloth at 2:29 AM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


It particularly reminds me of Bertram Forer's classic universally applicable personality assessment:

You have a great need for other people to like and admire you. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. Your sexual adjustment has presented some problems for you. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others” statements without satisfactory proof. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. Security is one of your major goals in life.
posted by raygirvan at 2:47 AM on April 28, 2012 [21 favorites]


It's comforting for people to believe that there is such a thing as "The Creative Personality" because it lets them off the hook for why they have failed at attempts to be creative in the past.

"I can't draw because I'm just not creative" is easier to say rather than "I only tried to draw a few times and didn't bother reading about perspective and shading and other techniques and I don't have time to practise all that much, and actually I don't like drawing enough to put that much effort into it anyway." Likewise in my line of work: "I'm not creative enough to come up with good ideas for writing academic papers" rather than "I have lots of good ideas but turning them into solid evidence-based research and then writing forty pages of good prose is harder than it looks."
posted by lollusc at 2:54 AM on April 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'll go back to lost cities now...
posted by infini at 3:27 AM on April 28, 2012


In my field of work, there is constant repetition about the need to show more initiative and creativity. Sadly, my offer to show more initiative and creativity with regards to the accounting is always turned down.

One day, they'll ask me what I meant by more initiative and creativity.

</hamburger>
posted by kithrater at 4:04 AM on April 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like the part where anyone can be creative using this article's criteria because creative people are both p and ~p at the same time for everything on the list - except androgyny.
posted by Veritron at 4:06 AM on April 28, 2012


I can measure creativity on my E-meter.

Not always, though.
posted by mule98J at 4:23 AM on April 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have a creativity on my neck. Pretty sure it's malignant.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:00 AM on April 28, 2012


Well, it's hardly a horoscope or something that applies to everyone. It aims to characterize "people who make important creative contributions," and certainly these paradoxes are not characteristic of most people (items 9, 6, 5, 4). But I don't recognize most of the names he mentions, which is fine. What is an important contribution? How was that defined. Ah, this is from a book, I see at the bottom, "Creativity: The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People." Would have helped a little to have that at the top somewhere. And more context to the article.
posted by Listener at 5:25 AM on April 28, 2012


Stuff like this always made me discouraged whenever I had to take psychology courses. It often feels like psychologists get paid to make pronouncements about human behaviour which have already been expressed for thousands of years in poetry and literature.

It makes me sad that these claims only become legitimate once a doctor conducts an experiment and the results come out in favour of the hypothesis.

This is why I feel that psychologists often cannot be considered among the wise.
posted by costanza at 5:35 AM on April 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Creative is a burrowing creature, subsisting on nuts, berries, and small insects. It is largely diurnal and has a mating season of six to eight weeks. It can be found in temperate wooden areas or dry plains. Its average litter is two. Efforts have been made to domesticate them as household pets.
posted by The Whelk at 5:47 AM on April 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


It makes me sad that these claims only become legitimate once a doctor conducts an experiment and the results come out in favour of the hypothesis.

Science is depressing and awesome at the same time.
posted by srboisvert at 7:01 AM on April 28, 2012


Very frothy indeed from a site that appears to exist solely to sell some guy's book.

Oooh I wish I was a creative person, they're so special. Maybe if I bought an Apple Mac Pro....
posted by Monkeymoo at 7:54 AM on April 28, 2012


Hooray words.
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:36 AM on April 28, 2012


I couldn't read the whole thing, because all the "traits" seemed identically phrased and conceived. I couldn't help but think that this was a total waste of time.

But, on mental rewind, I can believe that creative people are often those who can comfortably hold two opposing beliefs in their minds at the same time. And that's pretty much a summary of what this guy is saying, in many more words.
posted by kozad at 9:04 AM on April 28, 2012


I think the entire essay may be more palatable to this audience if it were phrased as "When people are being effectively creative they are doing X", rather than the current formation of creative people. Still, the fact remains that socially some individuals are held out as creative more often than others, and this is a good summary of the traits that many share. I suspect to many audiences some of these traits would be illuminating.
posted by meinvt at 9:12 AM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


“It was an actively creative society. Then the internet happened and everything got put on hold for a generation.” ~ Justin Fox
posted by infini at 9:31 AM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Very frothy indeed.
posted by mr. digits at 9:40 AM on April 28, 2012


raygirvan: It particularly reminds me of Bertram Forer's classic universally applicable personality assessment:
You have a great need for other people everyone to like and admire you. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself homicidal. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your dis-advantage. While you have some a personality weaknesses disorder, you are generally able to compensate for them it through the abuse of many sprays found in hardware stores. Your sexual adjustment has presented some problems for you your family, friends, acquaintances and riders of public transit. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, when in rehab, you tend to be worrisome immature and insecure of the size of your penis inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision, or done the right thing, by donating your body head to cryogenic science. You prefer a certain amount of change pizza and variety fried foods and become dissatisfied abusive when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations on sugar and salt and cake (especially cake.). You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others” statements without satisfactory proof unless they pay you. You have found it unwise to be eat too many frankfurter's in and risk revealing yourself flatulence to others. At times off your meds you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at all other times you are introverted, wary, reserved perverted, hairy, unnerved. Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic fascistic. Security is one of your major goals in life.
posted by Skygazer at 10:52 AM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Everything on that list applies to everyone who's ever lived. Typical Czskymehasdhweioz;oaisd^7pufdfioypglihaly.

No it doesn't, and you're an asshole!
posted by chronkite at 11:02 AM on April 28, 2012


I read his book Creativity a decade or so ago. It was better than this essay, because it contained a large collection of case studies he'd made of various creative people. The case studies were very interesting in themselves, much more so than the theory he developed out of them. Stripped of that supporting background material, these claims about traits of creative people do seem a bit vapid.
posted by Coventry at 12:05 PM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


No it doesn't, and you're an asshole!

I think sometimes it does, and other times it doesn't. As for whether or not he is an asshole, I think maybe sometimes but other times he isn't.
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:13 PM on April 28, 2012


The Whelk: The Creative is a burrowing creature, subsisting on nuts, berries, and small insects. It is largely diurnal and has a mating season of six to eight weeks. It can be found in temperate wooden areas or dry plains. Its average litter is two. Efforts have been made to domesticate them as household pets.

Well, the Spotted or Herbaceous Creativity is just a--at least, it's really more of a--of course, it depends on the ... Well, the fact is, I don't know what they're like.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:08 PM on April 28, 2012



Isn't this everyone? Are there people who aren't creative in some manner?


I've long been amused at the conceit that only certain things are considered "creative". This reminds me of a conversation I had at work once :

"Hi, I'm Bill, the New Creative in the ad department."

"Hi, I'm Pogo. The Useful in the IT department."
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:36 PM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Create : late 14c., from L. creatus, pp. of creare "to make, bring forth, produce, beget," related to crescere "arise, grow" (see crescent). Related: Created; creating.

-ive : sufix forming adjectives from verbs, meaning "pertaining to, tending to," in some cases from O.Fr. -if, but usually directly from L. -ivus. In some words borrowed from French at an early date it has been reduced to -y (e.g. hasty, tardy).
posted by TwelveTwo at 3:01 PM on April 28, 2012


Perhaps only sex, sports, music, and religious ecstasy--even when these experiences remain fleeting and leave no trace...

Sex may be a fleeting experience, but it sure has a tendency to leave a trace. Some of those traces might even grow up to be Creative People™.
posted by asnider at 4:19 PM on April 28, 2012


Science is depressing and awesome at the same time

Science is awesome at explaining the physical world. But when it comes to ethics, science should stay the hell away.
posted by costanza at 7:05 PM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did he define "creativity" in the article, or am I just dumb for not knowing how this is defined? Or is creativity what creative people do?
posted by univac at 12:21 PM on April 29, 2012


No it's just a stupid article
posted by The Whelk at 10:25 PM on April 29, 2012


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