By Susan Cheng
Susan is a contributing writer for Complex.
“Creativity is just connecting things,” Steve Jobs told Wired back in 1997, and he was right. What sets creative people apart from others is this capacity to find the relationship and to make connections between unrelated things, a skill they gain from their wealth of experiences. So what makes one person more creative than another? Researchers may have found the answer.
Edward Neckaa and Teresa Hlawaczb assembled 60 visual artists and 60 bank tellers and tested them to find out the different effects of temperament and divergent thinking. Just to clarify, temperament is a term in psychology that refers to the innate traits of an individual’s personality, qualities such as introversion and extroversion. Divergent thinking, on the other hand, refers to “the process of generating ideas by exploring many solutions,” as Fast Company puts it—stuff like free writing and magical thinking. Both these factors have a lot to do with why some are more imaginative and artistic than others.
Neckaa and Hlawaczb found that artists are actually pretty similar to bankers in temperament. However, some artists scored high in both temperament and divergent thinking. A few temperament traits that set creative thinkers apart from the bankers include: briskness, endurance, and activity. So basically what the first two traits mean is that creative people are able to adapt and think on their feet, especially during times of stress.
Perhaps the most telling of the aforementioned traits, though, is activity. The scientists postulated that a person’s temperament is actually “the foundation for the development and expression of a person’s creative potential.” Those people who had a high score in activity are more likely and will more frequently use their varying experiences as fuel for divergent thinking, hence more creativity.
Essentially, the more you experience, the more active, thoughtful, and creative you become. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it.