Wired to Create

Source: Psychology Today, Jan 2016

Is there a relationship between intelligence and creativity?

Intelligence, as traditionally defined by IQ, does show a positive relationship to creativity. The kinds of cognitive skills measured by IQ tests, such as pattern reasoning, analogical reasoning, working memory, and visual-spatial mental rotation can certainly contribute to creativity. However, IQ is not what gives creativity its special sauce. There are a lot of other factors that uniquely contribute to creativity. Daydreaming is one.

What do you consider the most important scientific finding about creativity in the past five years?

The latest neuroscience of creativity is interesting; it suggests that creativity involves the activation of brain regions that are typically at odds with each other when we are engaging in other activities. For instance, when we need to focus intensely on the outside world, we require those working memory resources to pay attention and silence the inner chatter. However, creativity seems to involve a unique state of consciousness in which the inner and outer worlds are one. Creators draw on their rich tapestry of inner experiences,fantasies, emotions, and ideas while also using their working memory resources to organize the flow of consciousness.

Creativity people tend to possess many traits that don’t usually coexist: introversion and extroversion, openness and sensitivity, play and seriousness, mindfulness and daydreaming. The creative mind is full of contradictions, and it is precisely the tension between these seemingly opposing traits and mental processes that may give rise to the desire to harmonize the tension through creative work.

Being open to new experiences is also critical to creativity; openness to experience is the #1 trait that predicts creative achievement in the arts and sciences. Stimulating your intellectual curiosity, engaging with art and music, taking risks, and seeking out new and different experiences can all help you get into a creative state of mind. 

Related Resource: NYTimes, Feb 2016

While creative people run the gamut of personalities, Dr. Kaufman’s research has shown that openness to experience is more highly correlated to creative output than I.Q., divergent thinking or any other personality trait. This openness often yields a drive for exploration, which “may be the single most important personal factor predicting creative achievement,” the authors write.

These are people energized and motivated by the possibility of discovering new information: “It’s the thrill of the knowledge chase that most excites them.”


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