Batey and Furnham (2006) make a point there is no universal definition of creativity. A general underlying theme found throughout the literature suggests creativity is a product considered new and useful by an appropriate person and a product of cognition, ability, motivation and environment (Batey & Hughes, 2017). In lieu of a perceptible product which cannot be subject to external validation of novelty or usefulness, creative self-concept is a useful construct in measuring creativity. Creative self-concept (CSC) has been studied extensively, according to Kowaski (2016) CSC is best described as a product of creative self-efficacy and creative personal identity. Creative self-efficacy defined as a persons belief of their ability to creatively solve problems and can think or behaviour creatively when required. And creative personal identity defined as a persons perception of creativity is an important component of the self (Kowaski, 2016). Additionally, divergent thinking is characterised by the production of multiple, alternate answers from available information, emphasising variability, often viewed as a creative cognitive style or the ability to generate novel and original ideas (Silvia et al., 2008; Cropley, 2006). Convergent thinking tasks emphasise; speed, accuracy and logic when generating a single best answer to a defined question or problem, with little room for ambiguity (Cropley, 2006). Personality and creativity have been studied extensively; a general underlying consensus is a predictive relationship between personality traits extroversion and openness and creativity.
Recently, researchers have argued the Five Factor Model of personality (Extroversion, Openness, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness and neuroticism) can be subsumed into two super traits commonly described as the Huge Two (Silvia et al., 2008; DeYoung, 2006). Plasticity subsuming two of the big five factors Extraversion and Openness; individuals’ high in Plasticity have the ability and tendency to engage in behaviours and cognitions which explore and engage flexibly with novelty (DeYoung, 2006). The remaining three of the big five Agreeableness and Conscientiousness and Neuroticism are consolidated into the meta-trait Stability (Silvia et al., 2008; Silvia, Nusbaum, Berg, Martin ; O’Connor, 2009; DeYoung, 2006). DeYoung (2006) explain the shared variance of Agreeableness, Conscientiousness and Neuroticism reflect an individual’s ability and tendency to maintain stability as a consequence of avoiding disruption in emotional, social, and motivational domains.
As a product of on studies investigating performance on divergent cognitive tasks creative types (high plasticity, low stability) are speculated to be associated with lower self-control. According to Baumeister, Vohs and Tice (2007), self-control, a form of inhibitory control, is the ability to regulate emotions, thoughts and behaviour in the face of temptations and impulses. Research exploring personality, creativity and self-control is rare. The importance of studying personality, creativity and self-control cannot be understated, understating this enigmatic relationship raises promise to a broad range of outcomes including but not limited to; the potential of defining new or refining current diagnostic measures, pre-employment assessments, and gaining a better understanding of various psychopathologies.
A review of the literature revealed a number of notable findings. Research into CSC and personality conducted by Silvia et al., (2009) found Plasticity had a strong positive relationship with CSC as measured in their study. The effects of stability were less consistent; Silvia and colleagues found agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism which make up stability did not predict creativity as measured in their study. Additionally, Silvia et al., report stability as a higher order factor failed to show a significant relationship with CSC. Plasticity appears to have the potential to be a powerful predictor of creativity, encompassing both openness and extraversion, which separately positively predict creativity in different forms (Kowalski ; Lebuda, 2016; Silvia et al., 2009;Batey ; Furnham, 2006; Fiest, 1998). This is consistent with previous research into the five -factors of personality, extroversion, is demonstrated to have a positive association with divergent thinking and other measures of creativity (Batey ; Furnham, 2006; Fiest, 1998). The remaining three factors, neuroticism, agreeableness and conscientiousness (the higher-order factor of stability) have a less consistent association with creativity measured by both creative self-concepts and cognitive tasks (Silvia et al., 2009; Batey ; Furnham, 2006).
Stability appears to have a negative relationship with divergent cognitive tasks, measured by both fluency and creativity of ideas (Silvia et al., 2009). Interestingly, research investigating convergent cognitive tasks and personality is not forthcoming; there is no evidence to suggest plasticity is related to convergent cognitive tasks. However, McCrea (1987) found divergent thinking abilities were consistently related to Openness a lower order factor of Plasticity. Silvia et al., (2009), found Plasticity, although having a smaller effect size, was a significant predictor for divergent thinking tasks in relation to fluency.
Redal, Davranche, Foumier, and Dietrich (2015), investigated the association between inhibition and creativity. The main finding of their study provides evidence self-control depletion has positive effects on idea generation, claiming the release of inhibitory mechanisms would allow access of more novel, less relevant concepts in working memory, lending rise to more divergent thinking. A link between self-control and failures at task performance has been highlighted by Baumeister et al., (2007), their study indicates depletion of self-control affects performance on divergent cognitive tasks. Similarly, Benedek, Franz, Heene, and Neubauer (2012), concluded cognitive inhibition had a positive correlation with divergent thinking and a range of other creativity measures.
Based on Silvia et al., (2009) it was hypothesised higher order factor Plasticity would be positively correlated with creativity self-concept, and Stability will not significantly correlate with creative self -concept. In line with past research (Kowalski ; Lebuda, 2016; Silvia et al., 2009; McCrea 1987) it was hypothesised Plasticity would be positively correlated with the divergent cognitive task but not with the convergent cognitive task, and Stability would have no significant correlations with either the convergent cognitive task or divergent cognitive tasks. In addition, it was predicted the high self-control depletion group would perform better in the divergent cognitive task, compared to the low self-control depletion group based on Redal et al. (2015) findings. It is also hypothesised the high self-control depletion group and low self-control depletion groups will not show any significant difference in the convergent cognitive task.
All data were analysed using SPSS v25. In regard to the RAT measure of convergent cognitive task, Levene’s test indicated the assumption of homogeneity of variance was met, p = .103. However, Shapiro–Wilk test of normality was significant p =.007. As recommended by Tabachnick & Fidell (2007), further investigation of the violation of normality revealed both Skewness of .752 (SE= .316) and Kurtosis of .123 (SE= .623) divided by their stand error score, revealed scores are lower than z ± 2., indicating the violation of normality is minimal. The progression of analysis based on equal sample sizes and robustness of ANOVA as suggested by Francis (2013) was warranted.
Table 1 shows the mean score and standard deviations the huge two meta-traits, Plasticity and Stability, Creative self-concept and performance on divergent and convergent cognitive tasks as measured by the AUT and RAT respectively.
To test the first and second hypothesis a bivariate Pearson’s Correlation was run on the data. The strength of the relationship was interpreted from Francis (2013). ). A significant weak positive relationship was seen between plasticity and CSC (p = .032). A significant weak positive relationship between stability and CSC was observed. As can be seen in table 2, plasticity had no significant correlation with divergent cognitive tasks (p = .626) or convergent cognitive tasks (p = .355). There was also no significant correlation observed between stability and either the divergent cognitive task (p = .693) or the convergent cognitive task (p = .314).
Regarding the second hypothesis results revealed there was also no statistically significant correlation observed between stability and either the divergent cognitive task (p = .693) or the convergent cognitive task (p = .314). Table 2 displays correlations between huge two meta-traits and CSC and cognitive tasks.
To test the third hypothesis, two separate univariate Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was conducted on the data to examine the effects self-control has on divergent and convergent cognitive tasks. In the first ANOVA examining effects of self-control and divergent cognitive task measured by AUT. There was no statisticlly significant difference in the mean AUT score across low self-control depletion (M =1.79, SD = .33) and high self-control depletion (M =1.85, SD =.36) groups, F(1,55) = .424, p = .518, ?p2 ?= .008, Observed power =.09 .
Inter-correlations between Huge Two Meta traits, Creative Self-concept and Cognitive tasks
In the second ANOVA, examining convergent cognitive tasks as measured by the RAT. There is no statistically significant difference in the mean RAT scores measuring convergent thinking tasks across the low self -control depletion (M =.12, SD =.10) and high self-control depletion (M =.13, SD =.07) groups, F(1,55) = .054, p = .817, ?p2?= .001, Observed power =.06.
The investigation into the association between personality meta-traits, Plasticity and Stability with CSC demonstrated partial support for the hypothesis Plasticity would positively correlate with CSC and Stability would not have any statistically significant correlation with CSC. Silvia et al., (2009) demonstrated moderate strength positive correlations between plasticity and CSC; our results indicate a weak strength positive relationship with CSC. More interestingly, the expectation stability would not significantly correlate with CSC was not supported. The relationship between CSC and stability has been reported to have inconsistent results throughout the literature. As such the hypothesis in this study was based on the theoretical possibility Stability, being considered ‘less creative,’ would encapsulate a lower level of CSC. Potential explanations for the variation of the strength and significance of results would likely be a matter of methodology. Silvia et al. (2009) measured creativity self- belief with a broader range of variables (global creativity, hands-on creativity, empathetic-interpersonal creativity and maths and science creativity) using the nine-item Creativity Scale for Different Domains (CSDD: Kaufman ; Baer, 2004 in Silvia et al., 2009). What is required to be creative in one domain (arts, for example) may differ from other domains (science). Thus CSC would be reflected based on individuals’ creative self-efficacy and Creative personal identity in any specific domain, which may vary between domains. CSC, as measured in this study, was not domain specific. Growth in CSC has been shown to peak in late adolescence, and early adulthood and decline thereafter (Karwowski, 2016) participants in this study had a mean age of 24 years old, which falls nicely into the early adulthood category. Causiouly, it could be the case CSC in this study was captured at the peak of growth over representing CSC in this sample. Unfortunately, a direct comparison cannot be made with Silvia et al., (2009) as these demographic variables are not reported.
It was hypothesised Plasticity would be positively correlated with the divergent cognitive task but not with the convergent cognitive task. Contrary to expectations and in contrast to Silvia et al., (2009) Plasticity had no significant correlation with either the divergent task. There are a number of possible explanations for the contradictory results. Firstly, in Silvia et al. (2009) study, participants were instructed to rank their best top two responses on the AUT, their scores then summed and averaged. The current study abandoned this method as an insufficient number of participants ranked their best top two responses, instead provided an overall score for all of their eleven responses. Thus, having a broader potential range of scores which includes lower -ranked responses. Secondly, within this sample of university students, all participants were completing psychology majors, Kaufman, Pumaccahua and Holt (2013), found when investigating personality and creativity in college majors, students in social sciences majors, (psychology) did not show a significant correlation between self-assessed creativity and measured creativity. The authors also found participants majoring in psychology, in their study, had a profile of high levels of openness and agreeableness; these are opposing factors in the summation of the huge two meta-traits. Indeed, in the current study, the highest mean score for individual FFM was agreeableness; the second highest mean score for FFM was openness. It is within the realm of possibility psychology students are less creative overall compared to other majors. As expected, there was no significant correlation between either the AUT or RAT and Stability; these results are in line with and provide support for Silvia et al., (2009).
Contrary to expectations and previous research, (Redal et al., 2015) there is insufficient evidence to support the hypothesis self-control depletion will affect performance on divergent cognitive tasks. Batey and Furnham (2006), argue divergent thinking is necessary but not sufficient for creativity, creativity also requires originality and flexibility. Similarly, Benedek, Franz, Heene and Neubauer (2012), suggest inhibition may encourage fluency of ideas as seen in past research (Redal et al., 2015; Silvia et al., 2009), and intelligence promotes the originality of ideas. One of the criteria in the scoring for AUT was indeed how uncommon a response was, which indicates originality. It could be the case intelligence acts as a moderator in the relationship between self-control depletion and divergent cognitive tasks which was not investigated in this study. Additionally, in the current study, for pragmatic reasons, the AUT task time allowance was half of the allowance provided in Redal et al., (2015). It is possible this impacts the results of the current study, as the scores for AUT were determined partially based on the number of responses, lowering the overall AUT score in this study with comparison to Redal et al., (2015). Both the effect sizes for AUT, RAT were considered small (Richardson, 2011), suggesting the self-control depletion task may not have been adequate in actually producing any meaningful self-control depletion effects. As typical in the behavioural sciences, researchers tend to be content with an 80% chance of detecting an effect size of .3 or above (Francis, 2013). The observed power (AUT = .09, RAT =.06) in this study indicates with the sample used had little chances of detecting any meaningful effects.
There are a number of limitations worthy of discussion. Firstly, the sample in this study was small; although this on its own may not represent a reason for non-significant results, cumulative effects may be present. Further methodological issues are evident, as it appears self- control depletion may not have been adequately operationalised. Future research would benefit from investigating the relationship between creative behaviour as measured by AUT and RAT, self-control depletion and the affect intelligence may have on this relationship. A simple remedy may be to measure the constructs of fluency and originality separately in the analysis. Examining the relationship between domain specificity CSC and general CSC may yield more consistent findings with past research. It is recommended that researchers utilise a more extensive and more diverse sample, including but not limited to age range, occupational field or university major.
Overall, the current study has made efforts to examine the relationship between personality as measured by the Huge Two meta traits, Creativity and Self-control. These results indicate Plasticity and Stability both positively correlate to CSC. The unexpected findings stability is positively correlated to CSC, maybe a matter of methodology or perhaps measuring personality on a broader conceptualisation is not appropriate in the study of the creative self-concept. Perhaps the most critical question elicited from this study pertains to possible moderating variables between personality Meta-traits Plasticity and Stability, and performance on divergent thinking tasks.