Creativity is found in different forms, and for this reason it should not be simply identified with one characteristic, indicator or test.

In a paralyzed economic situation, people are calling for creativity, looking for innovations and demanding new ideas. But what kinds of psychological features lie behind them? And what kind of a person can answer these calls?

A few years ago, I wrote about measuring creativity. A longer entry on Psycon's extensive creativity study can be found here. This time I will discuss the matter from the perspective of an individual. What kind of a person is particularly creative? How do they think differently than the others?


Before anyone has the opportunity to start nitpicking, I will admit straight up that, of course, there are of many different kinds of creativity. A good musician is different from a good patent engineer. But if we were to over-simplify a bit, we will find out that the psychological background of creativity is often astoundingly uniform.

There are of many different kinds of creativity.

From one study to another certain – often the same – factors arise to the surface. To simplify a bit more, there are usually three to six of such features. Some have to do with personality, some with thinking styles, and some with abilities.

Six hard components

It has been found in numerous studies that typical features possessed by creative individuals are 1) originality of thought, 2) fluency with ideas and 3) flexibility. Consequently, creative people find extraordinary solutions and know how to produce many of them.  But neither of these skills is enough – only a sufficient number of original ideas will start to produce genuinely creative action.

In addition, a creative person can look at familiar things from 4) a new perspective; for example, a creative person can easily find ten new uses for the mobile phone charger cord that someone with less creativity would never have thought of.

Furthermore, traditional 5) intelligence promotes the actualization of creativity. On the other hand, in the sphere of personality, 6) openness to new experiences is a good indicator. The last two provide motive power for creative thinking so that it will not remain only at the level of thinking.

In addition, some studies have found a characteristic demonstrated as a preference for complex and unsymmetrical patterns.  This is an extremely interesting characteristic that has a strong correlation to the creative activities of at least artists. However, it is not entirely clear how it is linked to coming up with new ideas, so I will not include it in the list of six.

Take creativity in the right way

So, creativity is found in different forms. For this reason it should not be simply identified with one characteristic, indicator or test. This is also why predicting it, for example, during personal assessment always requires combining data received from a number of indicators.

Creativity should not be simply identified with one characteristic, indicator or test.

Neither is there anything mystical about it; even if it may appear inexplicable as a process to outside. It consists of normal psychological building blogs, which are combined in an original way that produces magnificent insights.

The above is then at least a partial answer to the call of society. Creative ideas are not created on their own, they need to be actively created. The six characteristics described above will take you a long way towards achieving that.

Futher reading:

Barron, F. & Harrington, D. M.: Creativity, Intelligence, and Personality. Annual Review of Psychol­ogy, 1981, 32, 439–476

Furnham, A. & Nederström, M.: Ability, demographic and personality predictors of creativity. Per­sonality and Individual Differences, 2010, 48, 957–961.

Katarina Pekkonen (2010). Luovuus – sen osa-alueet ja niiden yhteydet älykkyyteen, kognitiivisiin tyyleihin ja persoonallisuuteen (“Creativity – its components and their links with intelligence, cognitive styles and personality”). Master's thesis University of Helsinki, Department of Psychology