About the Creative Personality

Creative Persons

In 50 Psychology Classics (Butler-Bowdon 2007) some of Csikszentmihalyi’s research is summarized as follows:

  • `The idea of the tortured creative person is largely a myth. Most of his respondents were very happy with their lives and their creative output.
  • Successful creative people tend to have two things in abundance: curiosity and drive. They are absolutely fascinated by their subject, and while others may be more brilliant, their sheer desire for accomplishment is the decisive factor.
  • Creative people take their intuition seriously, looking for patterns where others see confusion, and are able to make connections between discrete areas of knowledge.
  • Beautiful or inspiring environments are better at helping people to be more creative thinkers than giving them a seminar on “creativity.”
  • School does not seem to have had a great effect on many famous creative people, and even in college they were often not stars. Many people later considered geniuses were not particularly remarkable as children; what they always had more than others was curiosity.
  • The creative are both humble and proud, with a selfless devotion to their domain and what might be achieved, yet also confidence that they have much to contribute and will make their mark.
  • It is a myth that there is one “creative personality.” Something all creative people seem to share is complexity—they “tend to bring the entire range of human possibilities within themselves.”’ (Csikszentmihalyi summarized in Butler-Bowdon 2007: 71-72)

For more on The Ten Antithetical Traits of the Creative Personality – see Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Psychology Today article on `The Creative Personality’: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199607/the-creative-personality An excerpt: (though I recommend reading the full article online, not least as it is quite short)

`1. Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they’re also often quiet and at rest.

2. Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time.

3. Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility.

4. Creative people alternate between imagination and fantasy, and a rooted sense of reality.

5. Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted.

6. Creative people are humble and proud at the same time.

7. Creative people, to an extent, escape rigid gender role stereotyping.

8. Creative people are both rebellious and conservative.

9. Most creative people are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well.

10. Creative people’s openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment. Most would agree with Rabinow’s words: “Inventors have a low threshold of pain. Things bother them.” A badly designed machine causes pain to an inventive engineer, just as the creative writer is hurt when reading bad prose. Being alone at the forefront of a discipline also leaves you exposed and vulnerable. Eminence invites criticism and often vicious attacks.’

(Csikszentmihalyi 1996, in Psychology Today)

And – I drew a diagram to help visualize this concept, in that great Psychology Today (Csikszentmihalyi 1996) article:

The Creative Personality - and their `variable' Traits (Velikovsky 2013)

The Creative Personality – and their `variable’ Traits (Velikovsky 2013)

So – If any – or all – of this stuff reminds you of you, then you are probably: Creative…!

Creativity. It's not what you think!

Creativity. It’s not what you think!

There is also an interesting article online here:

Andreasen, N. C. (2014). `Secrets of the Creative Brain’. The Atlantic, from http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/07/secrets-of-the-creative-brain/372299/

And see also, the article:

`Becoming Creative Through Self Observation: A (Second Order) Cybernetic Learning Strategy for the Metaverse’ in the International Journal of Art, Culture and Design Technologies 1 (1) (Ayiter 2011, pp.  22-35) – By Elif Ayiter, Sabanci University and Planetary Collegium, Turkey.  DOI: 10.4018/ijacdt.2011010103

Currently (in 2017, anyway) I am also an Associate Editor of the above journal. and a free sample of that Journal (including the above article, (Ayiter 2011) can be downloaded, here.

And – see also, this great radio show:

`Creativity and Machines‘, Big Ideas, ABC Radio National, March 2016.

…Thoughts? Feedback? Comments?

(…Other comments? …Other thoughts? …Other feedback?)


Dr Joe (Velikovsky)

Creativity, & also High-RoI Story/Screenplay/Movie and Transmedia Researcher

& Evolutionary Systems Analyst

The above is (mostly) an adapted excerpt, from my doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema”. It is presented here for the benefit of fellow screenwriting, filmmaking and creativity researchers. For more, see https://aftrs.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky

JT Velikovsky is also a produced feature film screenwriter and million-selling transmedia writer-director-producer. He has been a professional story analyst for major film studios, film funding organizations, and for the national writer’s guild. For more see: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/



Butler-Bowdon, Tom (2007), 50 Psychology Classics: Who we are, How we think, What we do: Insight and Inspiration from 50 key books (London: Nicholas Brealey).

Csikszentmihalyi, M (1996), ‘The Creative Personality’, Psychology Today, no. Jul-Aug 1996, pp. 36-40.


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