Openness and Intellect Differentially Predict Creative Achievement in the Arts and Sciences

October 22, 2015

Scott Barry Kaufman, Lena C. Quilty, Rachael G. Grazioplene, Jacob B. Hirsh, Jeremy R. Gray, Jordan B. Peterson, and Colin G. DeYoung

The Big Five personality dimension Openness/Intellect is the trait most closely associated with creativity and creative achievement. Little is known, however, regarding the discriminant validity of its two aspects—Openness to Experience (reflecting cognitive engagement with perception, fantasy, aesthetics, and emotions) and Intellect (reflecting cognitive engagement with abstract and semantic information, primarily through reasoning)—in relation to creativity. In four demographically diverse samples totaling 1,035 participants, we investigated the independent predictive validity of Openness and Intellect by assessing the relations among cognitive ability, divergent thinking, personality, and creative achievement across the arts and sciences. We confirmed the hypothesis that whereas Openness predicts creative achievement in the arts, Intellect predicts creative achievement in the sciences. Inclusion of performance measures of general cognitive ability and divergent thinking indicated that the relation of Intellect to scientific creativity may be due at least in part to these abilities. Lastly, we found that Extraversion additionally predicted creative achievement in the arts, independently of Openness. Results are discussed in the context of dual-process theory. 

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