Are Creative People More Arrogant?

By Sharon Moore on April 03, 2012

Are creative people really that arrogant? Maybe you know of a friend, a neighbour or a colleague who always brag about their achievements. You may have met people who are a little full of themselves. Many times, you may have seen celebrities being interviewed on TV who sound like they’re the most beautiful and talented people in the world. Well, what many of us observe about these people are most likely true, according to experts. While creative people have many positive personality traits, a new study published in the Journal Personality and Individual Differences, revealed that most creative people are less humble and modest.

Personality Traits that Influence Creativity

Researchers from the University of North Carolina didn’t intend to label creative individuals as jerks. But they found some unflattering characteristics of these people. In the study, 1,300 students were asked to take some creativity tests and fill out questionnaires that aimed to measure their creativity in arts, creative writing, drama, and crafts. Psychologists investigated 6 different personality types and how they affect creativity. These include openness to experience, extroversion, emotionality, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and honesty-humility. Among the six, they found that experience has the largest influence on creativity while emotionality, agreeableness, and conscientiousness have no effect. Researchers were surprised to find out that humility and honesty have negative effect on creativity.

According to lead author Paul Silvia, an associate professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, they don’t mean to suggest that all creative people are arrogant. But on an average, people who have had numerous accomplishments are ‘less humble and modest’.   

Creative People are Less Humble and Modest

Creative people like musicians, artists, actors and actresses, directors, writers, etc. have similar personalities that we usually find appealing. But they have unpleasant characteristics too, just like being less honest and humble. Nonetheless, the researchers believed that being low in honesty-humility are not totally a bad thing. In fact, it is sometimes beneficial to people in the creative fields. As Paul Silvia puts it - "You’re going to have critics and detractors and people who discourage you from pursuing your creative vision". He added that the further they reach and the more achievements they receive, the more criticisms they get. So in order to cope with the risks associated in their professions, they need to reassure themselves that they deserve to be where they are now.

But on the other side of the coin, people who have low honesty-humility find it difficult to connect with other people, which is an important factor that affects their success. For instance, musicians should have strong ties to their fans to stay popular, actors and actresses also need to keep close to the people so they remain under the spotlight. Because of too much hubris, overly arrogant people have a tendency to be isolated from the creative immunity.  Silvia pointed out that arrogant people are more likely to have harder time building relationships and building networks which they need to stay in the business. The researchers suggest that these people need mentors to help them work their way out to the public.

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