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  • Print publication year: 1998
  • Online publication date: June 2014

14 - The Influence of Personality on Artistic and Scientific Creativity

Summary

Imagine for a moment, the following conversation between a 4-year-old and her mother:

“Mommy, where did I come from?”

“From your father and me.”

“Where did you and Daddy come from?”

At this point, the mother heaves a sigh of relief because no more detailed explanation of the process is required, and answers, “From your grandparents.” The conversation goes on to a few more generations before the little girl becomes more interested in her toys and leaves this line of questioning.

Wondering about the nature of creativity is in essence one form of the “Where did I come from” question, namely “Where did it come from?” The above conversation is an important one, for two reasons. First, it reminds us that humans are inherently curious about how things come into being and, second, our answers tend to be reductive. We all wonder were we come from, and so it is only natural that when we see something we have never seen before we wonder, “Where did that came from?” The most obvious and superficial answer is, “from its creator.” For some - like the 4-year-old girl - this answer suffices. For most people, however, it does not. We want to know more specifically about the processes and conditions that allow one person to create what others never imagined. How one person differs from others is exactly what is meant by individual differences, and with this emphasis on individual differences we move close to a personality explanation, the topic of this chapter.