The influence of personality traits and evaluation expectation on creativity

Alison Lalonde Kane, Fordham University


There is a lack of empirical research on how personality traits interact with particular aspects of the environment to influence creativity. This study explored the way one external variable: evaluation expectation, in combination with 10 personality traits, influenced creativity in the visual arts. Subjects were 80 undergraduate females; each one was tested individually. All subjects received Jackson's Personality Research Form-E (PRF-E). Through random assignment, 39 subjects were placed in a control group, and 41 in an evaluation-expectation group. Only the latter subjects were told that the work they did next would be judged on its artistic strength and sophistication by several faculty artists. To measure creativity, all subjects made a collage on the theme of "silliness," and then completed the Barron-Welsh Art Scale-Revised (RAS). Using Amabile's Consensual Assessment Technique, seven artists rated the collages on creativity, technical goodness, and silliness. For control group subjects, positive correlations were predicted between performance on the two creativity measures and scores on the PRF-E subscales of Autonomy, Sentience, Impulsivity, Play and Change. Inverse correlations were expected between creativity performance and PRF-E Order, Cognitive Structure, Defendence, Harmavoidance, and Social Recognition. Over all subjects, it was predicted that the control group would be higher in creativity than the evaluation-expectation group. Interactions between high versus low levels of specific PRF-E traits and the presence or absence of evaluation expectation were also predicted. None of the predicted relationships were found to be significant. The fact that these subjects were college students rather than artists, may have influenced their intrinsic interest in the creative tasks. If not enough subjects in this comparatively small sample were highly involved in the tasks, differential responding to evaluation expectation would not have occurred. Departures from Amabile's original experimental instructions, involving the time of debriefing, might also have decreased the inhibiting effect of prospective evaluation. The results indicated that a desire to portray oneself positively to others is at least one strong motivation behind undergraduate creativity. Results also showed that the CAT is a reliable method with which to measure visual creativity in undergraduates.

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Recommended Citation

Kane, Alison Lalonde, "The influence of personality traits and evaluation expectation on creativity" (1992). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9223817.