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Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts 2010, Vol. 4, No.

3, 149 –160

© 2010 American Psychological Association 1931-3896/10/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0017084

Personality and Thinking Style in Different Creative Domains
Chiara Simone Haller
University of Bern, Switzerland

Delphine Sophie Courvoisier
University of Geneva and Geneva University Hospitals, Switzerland

The crucial aspect of creativity in both personality and thinking style may be the ability or tendency to change within personality traits, such as, for example, moving between extraversion and introversion, and within thinking styles, such as moving between heuristic and algorithmic thinking. Such mobility is characteristic of the “complex” personality. On personality and thinking style tests, complexity would be expected to manifest itself in greater variability of responses to items measuring the same overall trait. This issue was investigated with 158 visual art, 136 music, and 309 psychology students. Art students (visual art and music students) showed greater complexity in conscientiousness than psychology and music students, respectively. Visual art students further showed a greater overall complexity (mean complexities across personality and thinking style) than psychology students did. A more traditional analysis revealed that visual art students were more neurotic, more open to experience and more inclined to heuristic thinking than psychology students do, whereas music students were more extraverted and more agreeable than visual art students were, and more inclined to heuristic thinking than psychology students were. Thus, it was possible to distinguish visual art students from music and psychology students by their personality and thinking style. Keywords: creativity, personality, thinking style, complexity

Since the 1950s, many studies have examined the link between creativity and personality (e.g., Barron & Harrington, 1981; Csikszentmihalyi, 1996; Dellas & Gaier, 1970; Drevdahl & Cattell, 1958; Eysenck, 1992, 1993; Farisha, 1978; Feist, 1998). As a result, the list of traits found to occur commonly in creative individuals has become more exact, precise, and encompassing. Traits that have been identified are, among others, tolerance of ambiguity, autonomy, intrinsic motivation, and openness to experience. A large number of personality characteristics have also been connected with aesthetic preferences, such as the Big Three (Eysenck, 1988, 1992), and the Big Five (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Although creativity has the strongest relationship with openness to experience, research has connected all of the NEO-FFI dimensions to creativity: Neuroticism (e.g., Kemp, 1981b; Marchant-Haycox & Wilson, 1992), conscientiousness or rather a lack of it (e.g., Getzels & Csikszentmihalyi, 1976; Kemp, 1981b; Shelton & Harris, 1979; Walker, Koestner, & Hum, 1995), introversion (e.g., Busse & Mansfield, 1984; MacKinnon, 1978; Roco, 1993), as well

Chiara Simone Haller, University of Bern, Switzerland; Delphine Sophie Courvoisier, University of Geneva and Geneva University Hospitals, Switzerland. We thank all participants who volunteered in this study; R. Brotbeck, M. Eidenbenz, and C. Swanepoel who agreed to distribute the link of the homepage to all of their students; R. Groner, who supported our investigation; D. Stricker who installed the homepage and all the others we have not mentioned by name. Profound thanks to Arthur Cropley for his support and his valuable advice. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Chiara Simone Haller, Falkenweg 15, 3012 Bern, Switzerland. E-mail: chiarahaller@ 149

as a lack of agreeableness (e.g., Dudek, Berneche, Berube, & ` ´ ´ Royer, 1991; Eysenck, 1995; Getzels & Csikszentmihalyi, 1976). One area in which there has been longstanding interest is the personality of artists (e.g., Burt, 1933); most studies involving art students (e.g., Munsterberg & Mussen, 1953; Shelton & Harris, 1979). Many of the studies were concerned with paintings (e.g., Tobycyck, Myers, & Bailey, 1981; Zaleski, 1984), and different styles of painting (e.g., Furnham & Avison, 1997; Rawlings, Barrantes-Vidal, & Furnham, 2000). Other studies focused on music (e.g., Glasgow, Cartier, & Wilson, 1985; Little & Zuckerman, 1986), and investigated the creative potential of musicians (e.g., Charyton & Snelbecker, 2007); musicians have also been compared with nonmusicians (e.g., Kemp, 1981b; MarchantHaycox & Wilson, 1992; Pavitra, Chandrashekar, & Choudhurry, 2007), or scientists (e.g., Charyton & Senelbecker, 2007), whereas male musicians have been compared with woman musicians (e.g., Buttsworth & Smith, 1995; Kemp, 1982). Investigations have also involved differences among musicians playing different instruments (e.g., Davies, 1976; Kemp, 1981a; Wilson, 1994) and among different groups of instrumentalists (e.g., Kemp, 1981b; Langendorfer, 2008; Motte-Haber, 2005). ¨ Kemp (1996) found differences between string players and other musicians in an orchestra on the personality trait of reluctance, a scale of Cattell’s 16PF instrument. Bell and Cresswell (1984) found that string players are more often worried, are less antagonistic, more conscientious, and control themselves more often. Woodwind instrumentalists, on the other hand, are more extraverted according to Kemp, and control themselves less. Kemp also found that keyboard players seem to be more introverted, whereas singers are more extraverted, independent, and sensitive. However, all of the named studies compared instrumentalists in their student years. Therefore, Langendorfer (2008) compared instrumentalists ¨

the indicator of complexity and therefore creativity in personality tests would not be mean scores but a measure of the variability of responses. 1985. 47) wrote it: . Dollinger & Clancy. 35). As Runco (2008) argued. many psychologists have been more interested in cognitive processes and have compared creativity with problem solving (Flavell & Draguns. are rules for finding solutions.” creative people would be inconsistent in responding to test items. they tend to bring together the entire range of human possibilities within themselves. assessing creativity with divergent thinking tests (e. 1964. Weisberg. 1996). 1965. Getzels. 1967. and stable. rather than define creativity itself. they do not guarantee a solution but they help to find it (Newell & Simon. 1963. Problem solving can be approached with algorithms (Bowden & Beeman. but that people often develop a strong preference for one pole of the continuum— usually the one that is regarded as “good” in the particular setting in which they live—whereas the “bad” pole is inhibited. a task cannot be algorithmic. and this variability must be measurable. whereas creativity “ [. different domains probably ask for different thinking styles to become creative in this specific domain. Sticking to a particular set of traits that are highly approved in one’s social milieu not only wins the approval of most other people but also makes the surrounding world more easily understandable and predictable. In other words. they show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. algebra). & Brooks. 265) as involving a “paradox. different creative domains should be investigated in accordance to the differences in the proportion of algorithmic versus heuristic thinking between domains.” Csikszentmihalyi (1996) made a similar point. 1988. Kaufmann. p. most people tend consistently toward one end of each personality continuum.. Guilford. She found that string players had significantly higher scores on conscientiousness than woodwind and brass players. Thus. from a cognitive point of view. Klahr & Simon. Looking at the big five personality traits. p. for instance. however. 57). The brass players scored higher on socially prescribed perfectionism than the woodwind players.. Thus. the creative personality is characterized by seven “polarities”: • • • • • • • Openness versus drive to complete incomplete gestalts High level of fantasy versus strong sense of reality Destructive versus constructive attitudes Cool neutrality versus passionate engagement Self-centeredness versus altruism Self-doubt versus self-confidence Tension versus relaxedness Cropley (1997. Although problem finding may be more consistently related to creativity (e.. . Furthermore. one phenomenon that some researchers have noted among creative individuals is the aggregation of conflicting attributes in the same person. 1999). Csikszentmihalyi. creative individuals often work in domains where problems have not yet been specified. and conscientiousness. Ohlsson. when he emphasized the importance in creativity of a “complex” personality combining. 1998. postulated that there must be variability within every person for the different NEO-FFI dimensions. according to the preferences of the environment in which they live. for instance. 2000. They suppose a systematic progression from the actual condition to the target state for a specific class of problem (e. An algorithmic task is one for which “the solution is clear and straightforward” whereas a creative task is one “not having a clear and readily identifiable path to the solution” (Amabile. toughness and sensitivity. Despite the existence of such findings. 8) expanded McMullan’s list and referred to the creative personality as “a bundle of paradoxes. Problem-finding or heuristic thinking may be one important ingredient to become or be creative. As Csikszentmihalyi (1996. people answer test items that all measure the same trait. 1987) is unfairly limited since there is much more to creativity than the cognitive process of creativity. he turned attention to the issue not of differences in means of scale scores or individual items. This was referred to by McMullan (1978. 1993). . Csikszentmihalyi (1996) argued that complexity is present within all of us. a new algorithm has to be created before the task can be terminated. no significant differences were found. 1993. to be creative. that is. However. 1996. some authors who attempted to connect the NEO-FFI dimensions to creativity found no relationship (e. However. McCrae. Some people may be more variable in their reactions to personality tests. Helson (1996) concluded that there is no single homogeneous set of personality characteristics that is typical of all creative individuals and differentiates them as a group from less creative people. Heuristics. 1987). on the other hand. the woodwind being the least conscientious.g. Thus. Thus. 2006). Fleeson found that long-term variability is greatest for extraversion. .g. but of variability in the way. Like the color white that includes all the hues in the spectrum. sometimes tending toward one pole of the trait being measured. Klahr. the special quality of creative people as a group may not be a specific profile of personality.g. the studies examined mean differences on various dimensions between groups of artists and contrasting groups. In other words. Algorithms are welldefined sequences of operations that guarantee a solution. Amabile.] involves the ability to move from one extreme to the other as the occasion requires” (Csikszentmihalyi. Mackworth. and smallest for agreeableness. it makes getting along easy. Thus.” According to him. Most of the studies described in previous paragraphs supposed that artists differed from others in that they were “more” of something: more extraverted. .” each of them is a “multitude”. McCrae. less for neuroticism. They contain contradictory extremes—instead of being “an individual. For other personality traits. openness to experience.g. Fleeson (2001). 1972). 1957. By virtue of being more “complex. or more open. . although the price is conformity. p. Sternberg. Indeed. Schooler. 2006. p. This approach is easily reconcilable with the idea of complexity. but in the case of other items choosing the opposite pole. 1996). 1965).. p. creativity may be more dependent on problem finding than on problem solving (Sawyer. According to Amabile (1983. but greater “complexity” in personality: The creative individual may be able to fluctuate between apparently contradictory poles such as selfishness versus altruism or acceptance of fantasy versus rigid realism. 1996.150 HALLER AND COURVOISIER of six professional orchestras. which make their success dependent on the formulation of a new problem (Beittel & Burkhart. and some traits may show greater variability. Although creativity has often been linked with personality.

Analysis. music. loading on one factor. Participants were recruited in 2008 at the Universities of the Arts in Zurich and Bern. extraversion ( .71). x. The two poles (algorithmic vs. Groner and Groner did not provide information on the internal consistency in the original manuscript. This aggregation of two very different types of artists may be inappropriate. 1990). 1 x. Items are answered on a 4-point Likert scale ranging from not at all (coded 0) to exactly (coded 3). and 39 wind instrument (46. A person displaying a low level of complexity would tend to answer homogeneously. Method Participants. xi. the individual respondent’s variability in responding to items on a scale that refer to the same construct would be an indicator of complexity. We then computed means and complexities (see below for an explanation of how complexity was calculated) for each of the five dimensions of the NEO-FFI and on the heuristic questionnaire.85). A total of 633 students responded (158 visual art students and 136 music students from the Zurich and Bern University of the Arts and 324 psychology students from the University of Bern). Analyses were carried out using SPSS 16. openness to experience ( . the second person would display greater complexity. possibly agreeing strongly with some items but disagreeing strongly with others referring to the same personality dimension. One question that has been asked in this type of research is whether there are psychological differences between people in different “creative” occupations: for example. they conducted a factor analysis that showed that 67% of the variance was explained by 17 items.. namely psychology students. Items are answered on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree (coded 0) to strongly agree (coded 4). refers to the global mean of all individuals over all items of a dimension. 1990). Thus.j n i 1 xi. sex. university. This questionnaire has high internal consistency for all dimensions: neuroticism ( . such as musician. for a given dimension. The Heuristic Ques- tionnaire is a 30-item inventory assessing algorithmic and heuristic thinking styles. whether visual artists are psychologically different from musicians. We also investigated the differences between visual art and music students. and psychology students differ from each other with respect to personality and thinking style.77) with 61. Earlier studies often compared artists with nonartists. but one person might answer homogenously whereas the other might agree with some items and disagrees with others.2% were women.28) years and 72. complexity reflects both the variability within individuals and the difficulty of each item: n xij x. Materials.COMPLEXITY AS AN INDICATOR 151 Differences Among Groups One approach to investigating creativity and personality has focused on what Cropley (2001. despite the fact that both groups are engaged in inherently creative occupations. relative item difficulty has to be taken into account. 1990 (see the Appendix).71).8% were women. for instance possibly agreeing (or disagreeing) strongly with nearly all items.5% women). the terms “easy” and “difficult” are used here in the psychometric sense to refer to responses across participants clustering at one end of the range of possible answers).8% women).8% women. agreeableness ( . 45 string or plucked instrument (46. yielding 12 variables. x. heuristic thinking) were based on factor scores. The second person could therefore obtain a higher mean for the scale in question. The music students belonged to four different instrumental categories: 29 Chant (82. A person displaying a high level of complexity would give answers scattered across the complete range of alternatives for responding to the items of a particular personality or thinking style dimension. 1993. Demographic data (age. the purpose of the research described in this article was to determine if and how visual art.80). A total of 24 psychology students were excluded because of missing data. Thus.93 years (SD: 4. Groner & Groner. and more difficult items on a dimension (because there are no right or wrong answers on a personality test.0. Switzerland. Participants completed the German computer version of the 60-item NEO-FFI of Costa and McCrae (1992) by Borkenau and Ostendorf (1993) as well as the short computer version of the Heuristic Questionnaire (Groner & Groner.85). The mean age of the visual art students was 26. They were informed of the link to the homepage that hosted the questionnaires. 53) called “occupational creativity”: Certain occupations are regarded as inherently creative. artist. Furthermore. and section) were also collected. Complexity was operationalized by investigating the variability in the way each individual person answered each personality and thinking style items. However.60) and 76.. Following this approach. Instruments were administered and scored according to the standard directions given in the manuals (Borkenau & Ostendorf. 2 where xij refers to the individual value of a person j on an item i. The NEO-FFI is a 60-item inventory assessing 30 specific facets that define five personality factors or domains. and at the University of Psychology in Bern. Two kinds of differences were examined: differences in level of various personality and thinking style variables (mean differences) and differences in the complexity of answers. Again.j refers to the mean of a person j over all items of a dimension. the term “artist” usually referring to a mixture of visual artists and musicians. or actor. Cropley listed several examples of research on occupational creativity. Such a person would be said to have a less “complex” personality. refers to the mean of all the people for a specific item i of a dimension. and conscientiousness ( . A person with high complexity will have a large difference between his or her answer to a specific item and his or . novelist. visual art students and nonartists.2% women). starting with Roe (1953) and Cattell and Drevdahl (1955). mean and complexity differences between music students playing different instruments were also investigated.4% women). Switzerland. and the mean age of the psychology students was 25. The heuristic questionnaire was originally published by Groner and Groner. we examined the differences between musicians.25 (SD: 5. It could also be that people might obtain similar means. 23 keyboard or percussion instrument (56. The mean age of the music students was 23.52 (SD: 8. We first verified the reliability of all scales using Cronbach’s alpha. and n refers to the number of items of a dimension. Because there are more easy. p. Thus. but obtain a much lower standard deviation for the scale.

subsequent analyses for every dependent variable used ANOVAs. Analyses were adjusted for gender because the gender distributions in the groups of students were different ( 2 8.78 2. we calculated differences in variance over all of the items to find out whether students within groups differed greatly within each item.24 Low High p .40 0.04 0. The differences between participants within each area of studies (visual arts. or psychology) as independent variable. ) to the mean of the person j over the items. music. music. However.76 (.06 0. x. We then computed the mean of all complexities and compared the different groups according to the new dependent variable “overall complexity.95 2.56 0. Complexity differences were investigated similarly to meanlevel differences.31 2. . Because the correlations were highly significant. Mean differences were examined using MANOVA with the six means as dependent variables and type of study (art.001). for Extraversion . p .44 Mean difference 0. further analyses were conducted at the item level.85 2.01) and less agreeable (mean difference: 0. the relationships between type of instrument and personality and thinking style were examined using multiple comparisons.19.001 0.74 for visual arts.82 for visual art.64 2.39 2.06 0. had significantly higher mean neuroticism and mean openness to experience.001 0. and differences between type of study were tested with multiple comparisons using Scheffe’s correction for multiple tests. 1993).001 Adjusted R2 0. Furthermore.07 0.18 0.03 0.10 0.84 for psychology students.75 for psychology students).01 0. Second. Finally. Cronbach’s alpha was . psychology) were analyzed using multiple comparisons (post hoc analysis) with Scheffe’s correction for multiple tests. For thinking style. p .j).04 0.35 0.20 0.70 1. This was done to find out whether there is a general new trait of complexity.10 0. . .01 0. MANOVA was run with the six mean complexities as dependent variables and type of study (art.01. scores were adjusted for sex. .13 0.83.02 0. since there was very little age variation among students. Visual art students also differed significantly from music students: they were less extraverted (mean difference: 0.50 2. and significantly lower mean extraversion.74 for music.001 0.28 0.23 0.69.78 2. or psychology) as independent variable.05 0.08 0.15 p-value 0.01) than music students.95 1.78 for music.001 0.24 0. for Openness to experience .51 0.152 HALLER AND COURVOISIER her mean on the dimension (xij x.07 0. and the thinking style questionnaire).05 0.30 0. Cronbach’s alpha for Neuroticism was .08 0. for complexity.82. Cronbach’s alpha across all six complexity scores (personality and thinking style) was . Table 1 Mean-Level Differences on Personality and Thinking Style by Type of Studies. However.55 2. item-total correlations were good and comparable to the ones in the manual. ´ To verify the significant results.74 2.57.01). Adjusted for Sex CI95% Dependent variable Neuroticism Extraversion Openness Agreeableness Conscientiousness Thinking style Type of studies Psychology Visual arts Music Psychology Visual arts Music Psychology Visual arts Music Psychology Visual arts Music Psychology Visual arts Music Psychology Visual arts Music Mean 1.17 0.08 0.78.72 2. relative item difficulty was taken into account by adding the relative difficulty of the items ( xi. p . Mean-Level Differences When all personality and thinking style were considered together (MANOVA).18 0. this does not take into account easier or more difficult items.17 0. agreeableness. which could be added as another dependent variable with six different facets (complexity on all of the NEO-FFI dimensions. and conscientiousness than psychology students (see Table 1). they differed significantly across type of studies ( p . We first calculated mean differences for the independent variable “type of study” over all items to verify whether students of one group scored lower on some items.08 0.28 0. they were not adjusted for age.38 0.52 2.70.25 0.04 0. for Agreeableness .09 0. correlations among the complexity scores for the six dependent variables were calculated. as compared to psychology students. Subsequent ANOVAs showed that visual art students. for Conscientiousness .16 0.21. Subsequent analyses considered each dependent variable separately using ANOVAs.10 0..10 0. we carried out a factor analysis for verification.06 0. music.” Results Reliability Reliabilities for all the NEO-FFI dimensions were consistent with those in the manual (see Borkenau & Ostendorf. Again.001 0. within music stu´ dents.08 0.24 0. Therefore. and . higher on others. Finally.

08 0.01 0. Because in the present study.11 0. but not music or psychology. than for music students (nonsignificant). they are also more variable among other students (interindividual variability).07 0.89 0.001). and Choudhury (2007).01). Feist and Barron (2003) found artists to be less emotionally stable. p . Thus.74.04. and rejecting of group norms compared with scientists. Factor analysis indicated unidimensionality.11 0. whereas psychology students describe themselves as being rather calm. and visual art students are almost consistently lower than both music and psychology students.01 0. people are more likely to be emotionally unstable.00 0. In a more recent study. or for each dependent variable considered separately (data not shown). plexities (as a measure of overall complexity) as dependent variable.62. Figure 1 shows the means and variance of scores across students by item and by type of study.05). Table 2 Complexity Differences on Personality and Thinking Style by Type of Studies.06 0.84 2.03 0.07 0.05 0.11 0. visual art students are not only more complex (intraindividual variability).04 1.00 0. Therefore. Correlations among all the complexities were all significant (see Table 3).13 0. and thinking style 0.82 2. The top panel shows that means do not seem to differ so greatly between items.04 0.10 0.05 0.00 0. but the difference was numerically greater for visual art. Principal component analysis showed the following factor loadings for the different complexities: Neuroticism 0. p . extraversion 0. and music students were significantly more heuristic oriented than psychology students.06 Low High p .13 1.93 0. Adjusted for Sex CI95% Dependent variable Neuroticism Extraversion Openness Agreeableness Conscientiousness Thinking style Type of studies Psychology Visual arts Music Psychology Visual arts Music Psychology Visual arts Music Psychology Visual arts Music Psychology Visual arts Music Psychology Visual arts Music Mean 0. Complexity Differences When all personality and thinking style were considered together (MANOVA). cold.78. Discussion Mean-Level Differences The mean differences on neuroticism showed that art students describe themselves as being more often distressed and sad. Results indicated that visual art students showed significantly greater complexity than psychology students overall (mean difference: 0.04 0. than for psychology students on 10 items. Chandrashekar.06 Adjusted R2 0. and than music students on nine items.08.03 p-value 0.01 0. respectively.08 0.44 0.17 1.07 0. visual art students. Gotz and ¨ Gotz (1979) found that neuroticism was positively related to ¨ creativity in the arts but negatively related to creativity in the sciences.00 1. p . and balanced. The variance is higher for visual art students.19 1. However. In terms of thinking style.19 0. as well as greater complexity than music students (mean difference: 0.36 0.02 0.72 0.08 0.03 0.79 Mean difference 0.08 0. Pavitra. who investigated the NEO-FFI among writers.00 0.01 0. and sex as covariate.96 0.05 1. . we calculated ANOVA with the mean of the different Com- Mean and Complexity Differences Across Instrumental Families Mean and complexity of personality and thinking style did not differ significantly across instrumental family for either all dependent variables considered together ( p .11 2.01 0.22 for complexity differences).06 0.05 0.17 1. personality was not actually related to a creativity measurement instrument.02 0. musicians.00 0. we can only assume that in the profession of visual art.99 1.05 1.05 1. carefree.04 0. Differences between people in each area of study were analyzed using multiple comparisons with Scheffe’s ´ correction for multiple tests.08 0. in that all the complexities loaded on one factor (explained variance 53%).73.17 1. openness to experience 0. Subsequent ANOVAs showed that Complexity of personality and thinking style differed significantly across type of studies on conscientiousness ( p .00 0.13 0.COMPLEXITY AS AN INDICATOR 153 Finally.14 0. in that visual art students showed greater complexity than psychology students (see Table 2).00 0. Agreeableness 0. music students did not differ from psychology students on any dimension of personality.18 for mean-level differences.07 1. and also as having more unrealistic ideas. they did differ significantly across type of studies only on conscientiousness ( p . The bottom panel of Figure 1 shows the between-subjects variance for each item.43 0.01 0. Conscientiousness 0.03 0.01.21 0.08 0.05).18 1.

less emotional stability might choose to be visual artists rather than musicians or psychologists.20 0. People who prefer external or highly varied stimuli (known to characterize high scorers on extraversion) are possibly more attracted by professions such as music and psychology. Indeed. 1973. because personality has been found to be stable (e. Thus. Pavitra.21 0. however. Roberts. By contrast. students seem to mostly accrue knowledge (psychology) or technical ability (music). Musicians and writers scored higher on neuroticism than did controls.22 O 0. the three domains seem to require different personality profiles.09 0. Busse & Mansfield. cheerful. active. Thus. Therefore.154 HALLER AND COURVOISIER Figure 1.11 0. It must be noted. whereas no significant difference was found between musicians and writers. whereas Universities of Music focus on technical ability (at least for instrumentalists). Chandrashekar. whereas introverted people might chose a profession such as visual art. 2001.15 . rather than on functional creativity. and Choudhury (2007) found musicians to be more extraverted than a noncreative control group. and controls.. that they did not investigate creativity with a test.24 0. energetic. Universities of the Arts focus more on the creative process. This means that .20 0. The mean differences on extraversion show that psychology and music students defined themselves as more companionable. 2005. musicians and psychologists are more extraverted than visual art students do.17 A 0.28 C 0. Bachtold & Werner.30 0. psychology and music students both showed significantly higher scores than visual art students. but mainly assumed that musicians are more creative than controls.” It can be further assumed that people choose a domain that fits their personality profile.27 0. at least during student years. 1984).01 (two-tailed). and optimistic than visual art students. and Universities of Science focus on gaining knowledge. Feist (1998) found that creative scientists and artists were less extraverted than their noncreative counterparts were. whereas psychology. One explanation for the result of the present study could be that visual art students need their unrealistic ideas to create new products during their studies. Lehnart & Neyer. and music and visual art students should not be lumped together under the label “artist. On the dimension of agreeableness. & Shiner.30 Thinking style 0. Mean and variance of conscientiousness items. visual art students seem to be more introverted (e. p . 2006). Caspi. as well as music. as well as performance.g. similar to the dimension of extraversion. found significant differences between the first two groups and the control group. people who show Table 3 Pearson Correlation Matrix for Complexities on All of the Dependent Variables N N E O A C Thinking style p E 0. communicative..05 (two-tailed). where they can use their capacity to focus inward. Caspi & Roberts. in the present sample.g.16 0.33 0.

2002). Visual art students scored significantly higher on openness to experience than psychology students.. In terms of thinking style. and compassion more often than visual art students. on the other hand. whereas there was no significant difference between either music and psychology. and as liking harmony in relationships. 825). while more heuristically oriented than psychology students. This could be related to the higher scores for agreeableness of music and psychology students. so artists can be considered prime examples of individuals high in Openness to experience” (p. and as behaving less cooperatively. visual art students differed significantly from psychology students. Openness to experience is the dimension most closely related to ego development (Einstein & Lanning. egocentric. keen to experiment. the present results do not show significant differences. Engineers. and Broyles (1996) on the other hand. and Choudhury (2007) found musicians to be more conscientious than noncreative controls. and Broyles (1996) on the other hand. studying psychology at university seems to require people to be very conscientious. Pavitra. Jancke (2008) argued that musicians are more ¨ likely to have well developed cognitive abilities. and “input from others during the creation of an artwork is felt to accompany loss of integrity” (p. but less than psychology students do. following conven- . whereas he found artists to be less conscientious than their noncreative counterparts. Gridley (2007) compared visual artists to engineers on the Intellectual Styles Questionnaire (ISQ. or do not want to interact with others (Gridley. systematic. 1998. Music students. 45 years after the original investigation. whereas conscientiousness is the best predictor of student performance in science (for an overview see Chamorro-Premuzic & Furnham. This may be because of the fact that visual art students often want to work alone. Agreeableness is the dimension with the most unclear relationship to creativity. In the present sample. like interacting with others. This is consistent with the results of Chamorro-Premuzic (2006). They described themselves as being visionary. Feist (1998) found creative scientists to be more conscientious than their noncreative counterparts. Costa and McCrae (1997) postulate that high openness is a characteristic of artists: “As neurotics can be used as exemplars of high scores on the dimension of Neuroticism. Psychology studies. The present thinking style questionnaire does not actually test divergent thinking. using mostly pre-established algorithms. described themselves as being more antagonistic. Universities of the Arts nowadays. and Hum (1995) found creative achievers to be more agreeable than noncreative achievers. a self-administered questionnaire that is composed of selfdescriptive sentences (as is the present thinking style questionnaire). Sternberg & Wagner. McKinnon. failed to find any significant correlation between agreeableness and creativity. music students’ mean levels seem to lie somewhere between psychology. or problem-finding. Walker. on the other hand. This result may be because of the expectations of each type of program of studies. found that openness to experience is the best predictor of life course creativity. McKee. 179). on the other hand. creativity should not only be defined or measured by divergent thinking (e. and the term “artist” refers to music students as well as visual art students. He further found that creative scientists are more likely to be conscientious than creative artists. 2008). reasoned that conscientiousness helps individuals follow through their creative undertakings. McCrae & Costa. Turning to differences between different groups of artists (music and visual art). strongminded. and Walker. found musicians to be more agreeable than members of a control group. for example. and Oral (1993) argued that creative people have a less agreeable but more independent perspective and do not place much importance on social conformity. 179). and Costa and McCrae (1997).g. 2007. McCrae (1987). Chamorro-Premuzic (2006). and behaving unconventionally. visual art and music students. identity exploration (Clancy & Dollinger. which “makes sense. compared to engineers. busy. Walker. Runco. In the present sample. who found that scientists who are more conscientious will perform better later in their career. their postulate is only partly confirmed. 2005). Visual art students may need to use a more heuristic or problem-finding thinking style because they must create a new product every semester. focus mostly on the heuristic. there are creative scientists and creative visual art students too. were slightly less so than visual art students (not statistically significant). neat. and thus do not need to interact with others as much (Guncer & Oral. whereas psychology students often need to understand and store new knowledge. This could be related to visual art students’ lower levels of extraversion and agreeableness. However. visual art students scored significantly lower than psychology students scored on conscientiousness. Soldz and Vaillant (1999). persistent. This could mean that. and exact at times. or music and visual art students. Indeed. King. and Choudhury (2007). respectively. Chandrashekar. because originality is prized in art. in the present sample. 1980). benevolence. style of thinking. However. Feist (1998) found that creative scientists and artists are more open to experience than their noncreative counterparts were. to follow their own muse. favor algorithmic thinking. found a negative correlation between conscientiousness and creativity. 1975). Gridley (2007) found that artists. were significantly more heuristically oriented than psychology students. preferred to work alone. which Sawyer (2006) cynically stated by saying that if you are a problem-solving artists you have been born 200 years too late. 1991). Conscientiousness is a facet that plays an elusive role in creativity. Chandrashekar. 1987). 1993). which was underlined by the findings of Gelade (1997. Tesch & Cameron. McCrae. King. Guncer. Visual art students. such as intelligence. however.g. 1987) and creativity (e. but asks individuals whether they describe themselves as being prone to unconventional ideas. whereas visual art students may need to be less strongminded at times so that they can let their ideas flow. since they have to create what is required by the potential customer. as well as to their higher levels of extraversion. in the present sample. because music students did not show significantly higher scores on openness to experience than psychology students. who found a strong positive correlation between conscientiousness and creativity. and music students have a tendency to be more conscientious than visual art students. Pavitra. 1993.COMPLEXITY AS AN INDICATOR 155 psychology and music students described themselves as facing others with appreciation. and visual art students. ambitious. for example.. and a preference for generating one’s own plans is consistent with this value” (p. meaning that psychology students described themselves as being determined. McKee. and risk taking (heuristic thinking) or whether they like following well-defined steps (algorithmic thinking). As mentioned in the introduction. Thus. as well as higher levels of neuroticism. He found that visual artists are more likely to create their own rules than are engineers. Koestner. which is consistent with the results of Feist (1998).

namely duty and achievement striving. 5. Visual art students showed greater overall complexity (mean complexity) than psychology students (but not music students). Thus. 143). This would imply that. In doing so. one must be willing and able to tolerate at least some ambiguity in order fully to manifest one’s creativity” (p. Moon (2001) postulates two faces of Conscientiousness. and. when necessary. “artists” should not be looked at as a whole. This means that people who see themselves as algorithmic thinkers might favor a scientific field rather than an artistic one. 2006). while each answering the questionnaire in a coherent manner. They recognize and manage the uncertainty in life (e. within similar items. and using exact rules that guarantee a solution. duty (or dependability) was important for the performance of health care workers but unimportant for managers. Indeed. but separated into the different groups of art. 1990). introverted. when it is not. If the first interpretation is correct. He summarized the situation by saying “. we should see greater variance on each item. might be more open to people who either are able to divide their time to finish their work for example.. 9. whereas all psychology. whereas visual art students would score higher on achievement striving. meaning different aspects of the creative process are meant to be supported. open to experience. Tolerance of ambiguity means people tolerate their ambiguous personality. respectively.156 HALLER AND COURVOISIER . they [creative people] can focus it[their energy] like a laser beam. . and 11).” All the different complexities were then facets of this new dimension. Psychology. The first is that students differ between items. is the conscientiousness scale really measuring one construct for these students? Cronbach’s alpha showed that while reliability is lower for visual arts and music students than for psychology students. as well as lazy. the conscientiousness scale still measures conscientiousness for visual art students but these students. differ more than psychology. Factor loadings were sufficiently high to justify the conclusion that there is a single. and especially high for four items overall (Items 2. 2008). conscientiousness). . Orvis. visual art. This result should be further investigated by measuring creativity and examining whether creativity is related to general complexity. the items of this subscale are not measuring a single construct (i. thinking style. we could say that visual art students are more “unique” in their conscientiousness than psychology and music students are. One unexpected result of this study is the discovery of a single complexity dimension. Complexity Differences Complexity differed significantly between visual art students and psychology and music students. visual art. Music students are more extraverted and more agreeable than visual art students are.. They switch more often between being very conscientious on one hand and rather lazy on the other.e. . but also present complexity . This shows not only that social scientists (nonartists) can be differentiated from artists but also that different groups of artists (visual art and music) differ. & Cortina. Further research should investigate this possibility by examining different facets of conscientiousness among artists and nonartists. Furthermore. and music students (a) among visual art students on each item. Thus. and music students. This may be because of the fact that the domains of music. hitherto neglected dimension called “complexity.g. and complexity. In other words. and visual art students differ more than psychology and music students within items do. because there are differences. Because complexity means being variable within a dimension. There could be two interpretations of the high complexity of visual art students on conscientiousness. Thus. (p. Lebiecki. less agreeable and more prone to heuristic thinking than psychology students are. see also Dudley. This would mean that visual art students are more “unique. Hough (1992) demonstrated that achievement striving was important for job performance of managers but not for health care people. visual art students differ more between each other on their ability to divide their time to finish their work (Item 2). According to those two facets. Mickler & Staudinger. Tengano. for visual art students. On the other hand. Conclusion The present study shows that the three domains investigated (psychology. and music students answer the same question in the same way. Duty is associated with other-centered orientation. only on conscientiousness. respectively. namely Self-centeredness versus Altruism. and being reliable (Items 9 and 11) than psychology. they would have low complexity. all visual art students would score low on some items and high on others. it is possible that visual art students are more likely than psychology or music students to switch between the two facets postulated by Moon (2001. and more prone to heuristic thinking than psychology students are. and (b) among items within the same visual art student. This would be consistent with one of McMullan’s (1978) seven “polarities” mentioned in the introduction. This may be because of the fact that Universities of the Arts focus the process of creativity. and music students do not only differ on mean personality and thinking style. they immediately start recharging their batteries.” in that they answer the same question differently from student to student. or the ambiguity of life. The means of each item did not vary more for visual art students than for other students but the variance was higher for visual art students than for other students on most items. The domain of visual art on the other hand. we should find low means on some items for the visual art students and high means for other items. they actually tolerate their complexity. one would probably expect psychologists to score higher on duty. These results are consistent with Csikszentmihalyi’s (1996) hypothesis that: Sternberg (1995) found a positive correlation between tolerance of ambiguity (that can be related to complexity) and scores on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Creativity Index (MBTI-CI. if the second interpretation is correct. and psychology ask for people who are able to work on a topic and practice to achieve a particular goal. but as well to those who are not. . and music) can be differentiated by personality. 58) tions. it is still good. We found results congruent with the second interpretation. The remaining question is whether the conscientiousness scale is still relevant for visual art students. Thus. switching ever so often. The other possible interpretation is that visual artists differ greatly within each item. On the other hand. it seems that there is more variability among visual art students (but within their area of study) than among psychology and music students. have clear objectives and work on them (Item 5). they may accept that they are for example conscientious. that is. Visual art student are more neurotic. whereas achievement striving is associated with a selfcentered orientation.

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we would like to get your opinion on some themes. I hate mathematical problems. 2. I know what to do. 17. 24. I would rather find a solution for a previously unsolved problem than do something according to a formula or an approved method. When I do routine work. 2009 . I get the correct instruments first. I would only teach using established methods. 30. 18. I do not like furniture that I have to build myself because I do not have any mechanical experience. 29. 26. In such cases. I like routine tasks. I like to book my holiday as a package in a tourist agency. I would get the cork out of the bottle in another way. I think about what I am actually doing. 25. and without a specific problem to solve. 10.160 HALLER AND COURVOISIER Appendix Heuristic Problem-Solving Questionnaire Adapted After Groner & Groner (1990. 5. 6. and if it could be done differently. To solve problems you do not have to be a professor. I give up immediately if I notice that it is too difficult for me. I do not have the patience to stay with a problem for a long time. Sometimes inventions or solutions enter my mind without me needing the thing. p. 23. 8. 320/321) In the following 30 questions. 12. who can easily be beaten. When I have to do something technical. If I ever get a dog. 21. I won’t buy one that is already trained. 9. 11. 16. I rarely follow the signposts. 27. Although it is possible to get lost in the forest. 20. 19. Please answer as spontaneously as possible! Thinking style 1. I first try to fix it myself before I ask an expert to do it. 2009 Revision received September 14. to be sure that I use the material correctly. Well-tried means more to me. If my radio or another apparatus does not work. People who think too much only get wrinkles and who wants to look old? Not at all Somewhat Mostly Completely ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ Received April 16. When I do handicrafts. 2009 Accepted September 14. I would rather play chess or another game against a more experienced player than against a less experienced one. Ruminating too much is pointless. 15. If I was a teacher. so I do not risk something new instead. I rearrange the furniture every once in a while in my flat. and what I need to reach my goal. I try to do minor repairs by myself. If I am confronted with a task to solve. 7. I like to do things according to a plan so that I do not have to worry about routine details again and again. and get information about how to do the task professionally. I am always interested to learn a new game that gives me something to think about. I get more out of a visit to a museum when I go on a guided tour. If there was no corkscrew to hand. there is nothing we can do against the grievances in the world. 28. When I try to solve a riddle. 14. I can ruminate on a solution to a problem for such a long time that other things are forgotten. including if I have not done this before. 22. I do not like to do it according to instructions. 13. I try to find out how others solved the problem before me. 3. 4. To work on something I already know is boring for me. I try to solve problems in new ways.