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Why Are Some People More Creative Than Others?

NAME: Rachel Oates
There's a big debate about whether creativity is more of a personality trait or a process that people can learn. But perhaps a question strongly linked to this is why are some people more creative than others? Do they naturally havemore creative traits? Do they just have a different way of looking at things; different thinking processes perhaps? Or is it that they try more, or are more motivated, to be creative?

A number of studies have attempted to identify which traits are consistently found in the most creative individuals across all disciplines. While each individual will be unique, certain personality traits and processes have been identified as more likely to provoke creative output.

One of the key authors in the field of creativity is Csikszentmihalyi. In his 1996 book Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention, he identifies a number of reasons why some people are more creative than others. At the core of his thinking is the idea that to be truly creative takes passion, a lasting interest and investing a considerable amount of time and effort to really produce anything of value. He sums this up nicely with the claim that what truly makes creative people stand out from others it that they ‘all love what they do’ (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996, p.107).

This was supported by Charyton who suggested that to be highly creative requires ‘discipline, persistence, and hard work’ (2015, p.181). This, arguably, would not be possible without intrinsic motivation stemming from a true passion.

Another trait which sets some creatives apart from others is their skill set. Tharp is a very successful choreographer. In her 2006 book, she argues that regardless of your domain, all creative people ‘build their creativity on the solid foundation of [underlying] skills’ (Tharp, 2006, p.163). That is, before you can attempt to create something new, you’ve got to master the fundamentals first.

Along with others, such as Nickerson (1999) and Kaufman (2009), Tharp suggests that the most successful creatives are the ones who combine passion and skill in just the right amount. They can’t get stuck in old ways but need to know enough to be able to add value.

Some academics theorise that there could be a link between intelligence and creativity. Early research from Arieth (1976) found that there was a correlation between these traits, but only up to a point.

His suggestion, which was later supported by Kandler et al (2016), argued that while there was a correlation between low IQ and low creativity, once a person’s IQ was moderately high it no longer increased creativity at the same rate. In fact, Newton (2015) found that above an IQ of 120 other factors such as motivation and openness to new ideas became more important than intelligence. High intelligence alone could even be a hindrance to creativity at these levels.

A Quick Conclusion…
So there’s a lot stuff out there written about what makes someone creative but the major factors seem to be:
- Skills and Knowledge in a certain area
- Passion and motivation
- Intelligence – but only up to an IQ of around 120

I think the key thing to take away from this is that being naturally creative isn’t enough. Creativity is something you need to use, encourage in others and yourself, and to practice and build on. The most creative people are the ones who nurture their creativity.