What makes up a person’s personality is complicated, but in 2017, a team of researchers from the University of Melbourne discovered that those with creative personalities not only bring a different perspective to the table, but also perceive reality differently than your average human.
How To Measure Creativity
What does it mean to be a creative person? Creativity may seem like an abstract concept to describe, but psychologists have pinpointed a way to measure it using tasks designed to test divergent thinking. The term ‘divergent thinking’ refers to a person’s ability to think of many ideas and solutions to one problem. For example, if you were given an object like a basketball, you may be asked what the uses of that basketball could be. Rather than it simply being a ball to play a specific sport with, you could suggest it be used to juggle, or as a flotation device. The more uses you can come up with, the more you’re succeeding at tapping into divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is a great indicator of creativity!
Openness Is the Answer
As the researchers at the University of Melbourne set out to begin their study, they enlisted the help of 123 participants and started by testing them for the Big Five personality traits, also known as the OCEAN model. These traits include openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. For the purposes of determining participants’ use of divergent thinking, the researchers discovered that openness to experience was the factor that mattered most.
Once they conducted this Big Five test and focused on openness, they went on to study whether this trait was linked to a phenomenon called “binocular rivalry,” which is an aspect of visual perception. This fancy term refers to two different images being presented to each eye at the same time. Generally, we are only able to perceive one image at a time, and our vision switches between them. However, occasionally, the researchers found that participants would see a combined image instead. Crazily enough, those that saw this combined image were the people who had tested higher for the openness trait. Creative people are able to see beyond the conventional — one image at a time!
Creative People Know How To Multitask
After discovering this connection between binocular rivalry and creativity, researchers also pointed out that in a similar study, openness was linked to lower susceptibility to inattentional blindness. This term refers to the phenomenon of a person focusing so heavily on one thing that they entirely miss out one something else. It is most famously illustrated in the following video:
In that study, researchers found that those who were more open were less likely to miss the gorilla coming onto the screen. So, creative people are able to see the world a bit more clearly and expansively than those who lack the openness trait.
Can Your Personality Change?
If you’ve read this article and felt discouraged that because you’re not creative you’ll miss out on seeing the world in this way, don’t worry! Though personality is a complex topic, more and more we’re finding out that our personalities can change over time.
Our degree of openness can increase through specific exercises such as cognitive training or regular meditation. You can also become a more open person by traveling, studying abroad, and, believe it or not, ingesting magic mushrooms.
The question still exists though as to whether our personality changing also definitely means that our perception of the world will change along with it. Researchers are always working hard to solve this question and many more.
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