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There is truth behind the “insufferable artist” stereotype

Heather Rudow October 6, 2011

(Photo:Flickr/edwin.11)

A new study about the personality of creative individuals revealed that the self-absorbed artist stereotype might actually have some truth to it, MSNBC reports.

“Our research didn’t find a huge effect, and we certainly aren’t claiming that all creative people are insufferably arrogant, but, on average, people with a lot of creative accomplishments were less humble and modest,” said Paul Silvia, lead author of the study.

Researchers analyzed personality tests and creativity-themed questionnaires from 1,300 college students and looked at how six different personality traits affected creativity:

“They found an openness to experience is the personality characteristic with the largest influence on creativity, a result seen in previous studies. Extroversion had a smaller effect, while emotionality and conscientiousness made no difference. Agreeableness, which indicates that people can compromise, sympathize and get along well with others, also had no effect. But honesty-humility was shown to have a negative influence on creativity.”

But the news isn’t all bad: While creative types tend to be less modest and more arrogant, according to the study, they also tend to be curious, broad-minded and more open to new experiences.

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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