Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 3
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012

13 - Both Sides of the Coin? Personality, Deviance, and Creative Behavior


Rupert Holmes wrote in the musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1979), “Would you not quite feel quite the fool of deception/To find the same face on both sides of the coin?.” To elaborate on this a bit, consider Hannibal Lecter's escape from prison in Silence of the Lambs. He attacks and kills two guards. Rather than trying to run, he puts on a guard's uniform, dumps the guard down an elevator shaft, and places the guard's removed face onto his own. The responding officers assume that Lecter is actually the guard and put him in an ambulance – from which he escapes. Lecter is not only evil; he is also amazingly creative. Are his deviant behavior and creativity linked together as common traits, the way that a talented novelist also may write interesting e-mails? Or are they distinct entities in the same manner that a talented novelist also may make excellent birdcalls, cook tasty hash browns, or run a marathon? The relationship between creativity and deviant behavior – with the common ground of personality – is the subject of this chapter.

Personality is an immensely complicated facet of human psychology that is affected by heredity, social ties, environmental factors, biology, and the list goes on. Personality, in turn, affects human behavior in a variety of ways. Keeping Lecter's creative maneuvering in mind, the important questions to consider are (a) Does personality cause deviant behavior? and (b) Can personality predict future likelihood of involvement in criminal behavior?

Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Agnew, R. (2006). Pressured into crime: An overview of general strain. Los Angeles: Roxbury Press.
Agnew, R., Brezina, T., Wright, J., & Cullen, F. (2002). Strain, personality traits, and delinquency: Extending general strain theory. Criminology, 40, 43–71.
Amabile, T. M. (1983). The social psychology of creativity. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Amabile, T., Barsade, S., Mueller, J., & Staw, B. (2005). Affect and creativity at work. Administrative Science Quarterly, 50, 367–403.
Baltes, P., Lindenberger, U., & Staudinger, U. (1998). Life-span theory in developmental psychology. In W. Damon and R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology, 5th ed., Vol. 1 (pp. 1029 –1143). New York: Wiley.
Bower, R. (1999). Dangerous minds: Eminently creative people who have spent time in jail. Creativity Research Journal, 12, 3–13.
Bransford, J. D. & Stein, B. (1984). The ideal problem solver: A guide for improving thinking, learning, and creativity. New York: Freeman.
Burch, G., Hemsley, D., Pavelis, C., & Philip, C. (2006). Personality, creativity and latent inhibition. European Journal of Personality, 20, 107–122.
Carlsson, I. (2002). Anxiety and flexibility of defense related to high or low creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 14, 341–349.
Carrington, K. (2006). Does feminism spoil girls? Explanations for the official rises in female delinquency. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 39, 34–53.
Carson, D. & Runco, M. (1999). Creative problem solving and problem finding in young adults: Interconnections with stress, hassles, and coping abilities. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 33, 167–190.
Caspi, A., & Moffitt, T. (1991). Individual differences are accentuated during periods of social change: The sample case of girls at puberty. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 157–168.
Caspi, A. & Moffitt, T. (1993). When do individual differences matter? A paradoxical theory of personality coherence. Psychological Inquiry, 4, 247–271.
Caspi, A., Elder, G., & Herbener, E. (1990). Childhood personality and the prediction of life-course patterns. In L. N. Robins and M. Rutter (Eds.), Straight and devious pathways from childhood to adulthood (pp. 13–35). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Caspi, A., Begg, D., Dickson, N., Harrington, H., Langley, J., Moffitt, T., & Silva, P. (1997). Personality differences predict health-risk behaviors in young adulthood: Evidence from a longitudinal study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 1052–1063.
Caspi, A., Roberts, B., & Shiner, R. (2005). Personality development: Stability and change. Annual Review of Psychology, 56, 453–484.
Cauffman, E. (2008). Understanding the female offender. Future of Children, 18, 119–142.
Chan, D., Cheung, P-C., Lau, S., Wu, W., Kwong, J., and Li, W-L. (2001). Assessing ideational fluency in primary students in Hong Kong. Creativity Research Journal, 13, 359–365.
Costa, P. & McCrae, R. (1992). Revised NEO personality inventory (NEO–PI–R) and NEO five-factor inventory (NEO–FFI) professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.
Cropley, D. H., Kaufman, J. C., & Cropley, A. J. (2008). Malevolent creativity: A functional model of creativity in terrorism and crime. Creativity Research Journal, 20, 105–115.
Csikzentmihalyi, M. & Larson, R. W. (1987). Validity and reliability of the experience-sampling method. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 175, 526–536.
Digman, J. (1980). Personality structure: Emergence of the five-factor model. Annual Review of Psychology, 41, 417–440.
Dollinger, S., Urban, K., & James, T. (2004). Creativity and openness: Further validation of two creative product measures. Creativity Research Journal, 16, 35–47.
Ellis, A. (1962). Reason and emotion in psychotherapy. Seacaucus, NJ: Lyle Stuart.
Estrada, C., Isen, A., & Young, M. (1994). Positive affect improves creative problem solving and influences reported source of practice satisfaction in physicians. Motivation and Emotion, 18, 285–299.
Eysenck, H. J. (1993). Creativity and personality: Suggestions for a theory. Psychological Inquiry, 4, 147–178.
Eysenck, H. J. (1995). Genius: The natural history of creativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Farley, F. (1973). A theory of delinquency. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association, Montreal, Canada.
Feist, G. (1998). A meta-analysis of personality in scientific and artistic creativity. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 2, 290–309.
Fleeson, W. (2004). Moving personality beyond the person-situation debate: The challege and the opportunity of within-person variability. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13(2), 83–87.
Floderus-Myrhed, B., Pederson, N., & Rasmussen, I. (1980). Assessment of heritability for personality based on a short form of Eysenck Personality Inventory: A study of 12,898 twin pairs. Behavior Genetics, 10, 153–162.
Finn, P., Sharkansky, E., Brandt, K., & Turcotte, N. (2000). The effects of familial risk, personality, and expectancies on alcohol use and abuse. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 109, 122–133.
Forgeard, M. (2008). Linguistic styles of eminent writers suffering from unipolar and bipolar mood disorder. Creativity Research Journal, 20, 81–92.
Fraley, C. (1998). Algorithms for model-based Gaussian hierarchical clustering. Journal of Scientific Computing, 20, 270–281.
Gasper, K. (2004). Permission to seek freely? The effect of happy and sad moods on generating old and new ideas. Creativity Research Journal, 16, 215–229.
George, J. & Zhou, J. (2002). Understanding when bad moods foster creativity and good ones don't. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 687–697.
Getzels, J. W. & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1976). The creative vision: A longitudinal study of problem-finding in art. New York: Wiley-Interscience.
Glover, J., Bruning, R., & Plake, B. (1982). Distinctiveness of encoding and recall of text materials. Journal of Educational Psychology, 74, 522–534.
Goldberg, L. (1992). The development of markers for the big-five factor structure. Psychological Assessment, 4, 26–42.
Grawitch, M., Munz, D., & Kramer, T. (2003). Effects of member mood states on creative performance in temporary workgroups. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 7, 41–54.
Gudjonsson, G. & Sigurdsson, F. (2004). Motivation for offending and personality. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 9, 69–81.
Guilford, J. P. (1956). The structure of intellect. Psychological Bulletin, 53, 267–293.
Halpern, D. (2003). Thought and knowledge: An introduction to critical thinking, 4th ed. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Hirt, E., Devers, E., & McCrea, S. (2008). I want to be creative: Exploring the role of hedonic contingency theory in the positive mood-cognitive flexibility link. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 214–230.
Hirt, E., Levine, G., McDonald, H., Melton, J., & Martin, L. (1997). The role of mood in quantitative and qualitative aspects of performance: Single or multiple mechanisms?Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 33, 602–629.
Isen, A., Labroo, A., & Durlach, P. (2004). An influence of product and brand name on positive affect: Implicit and explicit measures. Motivation and Emotion, 28, 43–63.
Isen, A., Daubman, K., & Nowicki, G. (1987). Positive affect facilitates creative problem solving. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 1122–1131.
Isen, A., Johnson, M., Mertz, E., & Robinson, G. (1985). The influence of positive affect on the unusualness of word associations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 1413–1426.
Jamison, K. R. (1993). Touched with fire. New York: Free Press.
Johnson, R., Su, S., Gerstein, D., Shin, H., & Hoffman, J. (1995). Parental influences on deviant behavior in early adolescence: A logistic response analysis of age- and gender-differentiated effects. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 11, 167–193.
Kagan, J. & Zentner, M. (1996). Early childhood predictors of adult psychopathology. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 3, 341–350.
Kaufman, J. C. (2003). The cost of the muse: Poets die young. Death Studies, 27, 813– 822.
Kaufman, J. C. (2009). Creativity 101. New York: Springer.
Kaufmann, G. & Vosburg, S. (2002). The effects of mood on early and late idea production. Creativity Research Journal, 14, 317−330.
Koestler, A. (1964). The act of creation. New York: Macmillan.
Lemery, K., Goldsmith, H., Klinnert, M., & Mrazek, D. (1999). Developmental models of infant and childhood temperament. Developmental Psychology, 35, 189–204.
Lubart, T. (1994). Creativity. In Robert Sternberg (Ed.), Thinking and problem solving: Handbook of perception and cognition, 2nd ed. New Haven, CT: Academic Press.
Ludwig, A. M. (1995). The price of greatness: Resolving the creativity and madness controversy. New York: Guilford Press.
Lynam, D. & Miller, J. (2001). Structural models of personality and their relation to antisocial behavior: A meta-analysis review. Criminology, 39, 765–798.
Lynam, D. & Miller, J. (2004). Personality pathways to impulsive behavior and their relations to deviance: Results from three samples. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 20, 319–341.
Lynton, H. & Salovey, P. (1997). The effects of mood and expository writing. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 17, 95–110.
Magnusson, D. & Endler, N. S. (Eds.). (1977). Personality at the crossroads: Current issues in interactional psychology. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Mak, A., Heaven, P., & Rummery, A. (2003). The role of group identity and personality domains as indicators of self-reported delinquency. Psychology, Crime & Law, 9, 9–18.
McCrae, R. (1987). Creativity, divergent thinking, and openness to experience. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 1258.
McCrae, R. & Costa, P. (1990). Personality in adulthood. New York: Guilford Press.
McCrae, R., Costa, P., Ostendorf, F., Angleitner, A., Hrebickova, M., Avia, M., et al. (2000). Nature over nurture: Temperament, personality, and life span development. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 173–186.
McCrae, R., Costa, P., Terracciano, A., Parker, W., Mills, C., Fruyt, F., et al. (2002). Personality trait development from age 12 to age 18: Longitudinal, cross-sectional, and cross-cultural analyses. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 1456–1468.
Mednick, S. (1962). The associative basis of the creative process. Psychological Review, 69, 220–232.
Meneely, J. & Portillo, M. (2005). The adaptable mind in design: Relating personality, cognitive style, and creative performance. Creativity Research Journal, 17, 155–166.
Miller, J., Lynam, D., & Leukfeld, C. (2003). Examining antisocial behavior through the lens of the five factor model of personality. Aggressive Behavior, 29, 497–514.
Montgomery, D., Hodges, P., & Kaufman, J. (2004). An exploratory study of the relationship between mood states and creativity self-perceptions. Creativity Research Journal, 16, 341–344.
Peterson, J. B. & Carson, S. (2000). Latent inhibition and openness to experience in a high-achieving student population. Personality and Individual Differences, 28, 323–332.
Peterson, J., Smith, K., & Carson, S. (2002). Openness and extraversion are associated with reduced latent inhibition: Replication and commentary. Personality and Individual Differences, 33, 1137–1147.
Piquero, N., Gover, A., MacDonald, J., & Piquero, A. (2005). The influence of delinquent peers on delinquency: Does gender matter? Youth Society, 36, 251–275.
Roberti, J. (2004). A review of behavioral and biological correlates of sensation seeking. Journal of Research in Personality, 38, 256–279.
Robins, R., Trzesniewski, K., Tracy, J., Gosling, S., & Potter, J. (2002). Self-esteem across the lifespan. Psychology and Aging, 17, 423–434.
Romero, E., Luengo, M., & Sobral, J. (2001). Personality and antisocial behaviour: study of temperamental dimensions. Personality and Individual Differences, 31, 329–348.
Rothbart, M., Ahadi, S., & Evans, D. (2000). Temperament and personality: Origins and outcomes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 122–135.
Schaeffer, C., Petras, H., Ialongo, N., Poduska, J., & Kellam, S. (2003). Modeling growth in boys' aggressive behavior across elementary school: Links to later criminal involvement, conduct disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. Developmental Psychology, 39, 1020–1035.
Schere, J. J. (1998). Effect of engaging in creative activity on the mood of artists and writers: An empirical test of flow theory. PhD thesis, California School of Professional Psychology.
Simonton, D. (2000). Creativity: Cognitive, personal, developmental and social aspects. American Psychologist, 55, 151–158.
Sternberg, R. (1999). Handbook of creativity. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Torrance, E. (1965). Constructive behavior: Stress, personality, and mental health. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.
Verhaeghen, P., Joorman, J., & Khan, R. (2005). Why we sing the blues: The relation between self-reflective rumination, mood and creativity. Emotion, 5, 226–232.
Wallach, M. (1985). Creativity testing and giftedness. In Horowitz, F. D. and O'Brien, M. (Eds.), The gifted and talented: Developmental perspectives (pp. 99–123). Washington: American Psychological Association.
Walters, G. (1990). The criminal lifestyle: Patterns of serious criminal conduct. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Wegener, D. & Petty, R. (2001). Theories of mood and cognition: A user's handbook. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Yochelson, S. & Samenow, S. (1976). The criminal personality, Vol. 1: A profile for change. New York: Jason Aronson.
Zuckerman, M. (1994). Behavioral expressions and biosocial bases of sensation seeking. New York: Cambridge Press.