Openness to Experience

Source: Creativity Post, Dec 2016

a recent meta-analysis looked through over 9,000 relevant publications and identified studies that included measures of deliberate practice and measures of skill. What it found was that for certain types of skill, accumulated hours of deliberate practice mattered more and for other types it mattered less, but it never accounted for nothing and it certainly never accounted for everything. It usually accounted for somewhere between a medium-low and medium-high amount of skill difference, to put it colloquially.

I think this gets to one of the essential differences between scientists and normal people. Scientists can’t just say “it’s not nature or nurture.” Numbers matter. It has to be “how much does each matter and what’s the interplay of each in every different situation?” It’s not just, does this matter? Scientists have to care about magnitude and numbers as they test their theories.

one of the most important characteristics was the extent to which kids fell in love with a future image of themselves. That has passion, but it also has an imagination component to it. Openness to experience, for instance, we’ve found is the best predictor of publicly recognized creative achievement, even better than conscientiousness.

 Angela Duckworth’s research—she’s a friend and colleague of mine and I respect her work immensely—showing that stick-to-it-ness and not giving up or having the right mindset are immensely important. I think that a full, comprehensive understanding of the development of greatness is going to require more of a “yes and” approach than a, “It’s this or it’s that” approach. That’s really what I’m calling for, more of “yes it’s grit, but it’s also imagination, it’s also curiosity, it’s also all these things that make you unique as a human being in this world.” I think that way of looking at things is actually more hopeful and exciting because it recognizes the importance of individuality.


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