Happy extraverts are more creative: study

(PhysOrg.com) -- Outgoing people who are in a good mood are significantly more creative than people who keep themselves to themselves, according to a new study.

In the first study to examine links between personality type, mood and performance, a psychologist at the University of Portsmouth found extravert people in a good mood are the most creative thinkers.

Introverts on the other hand are no more creative whether they are in a good or neutral mood.

Dr Lorenzo Stafford, of the psychology department, said his results showed personality and mood play a vital role in creativity.

Extraverts are likely to be more successful at creative tasks because they have a higher than average level of dopamine, the ‘happiness chemical’, in their brains than introverts and this chemical floods the brain at even higher doses when a person is in a good mood, according to Dr Stafford.

“The more outgoing a person is the more active their is and a positive mood increases dopamine activity even further in many parts of the brain. It’s effectively a combination of these two things I would suggest leads to greater activity in certain areas of the brain controlling ,” he said.

“This is interesting in itself because it demonstrates that it is the combination of the extravert personality-type in a positive mood which encourages more creative performance, and not simply positive mood alone.”

Dopamine occurs naturally in the brain and affects a range of behaviour including mood, sleep, reward, learning and movement.

Dr Stafford’s research was published recently in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

He said: “This is the first study to investigate how personality type and affect the ’s ability to carry out mental - especially creative - tasks and the results are fascinating.

“Previous studies have shown that people in a good mood perform better overall at creativity tasks but finding that character type also influences creativity has added a whole new dimension.

“I hope these results will open the door for more research into how personality influences the mind.”

Eighty-six people took part in the study ranging in age from 18 to 53 years. Participants completed a questionnaire to determine their then listened to different types of music to put them into a good or neutral mood before completing a word association test, a response test and a memory test.

The word association test was used to assess participants’ creative ability. Subjects were given three words and had to find a common word that can be used to form a new word or phrase. For example ‘horn’ would be the solution for the words ‘french’, ‘car’ and ‘shoe’. Extraverts’ scores virtually doubled in a positive compared to a negative mood, whereas introverts hardly changed at all.

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Provided by University of Portsmouth
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User comments

Aug 03, 2010
So what's that mean? Introverts are fortresses, no more able to utilize or be hindered by the tide, whereas extraverts are battlecruisers?

Aug 03, 2010
Maybe happy extroverts are more creative - but human history remembers mostly the pieces of contemplative sad introverts...

Aug 03, 2010
Being an extrovert, one is exposed to many different types of experiences and other people. That might be another reason creativity is enhanced along with being in a good mood. When an extrovert is in a good mood they generally socialize more and gain knowledge and experience from other people easier.

Introverts by contrast rarely socialize and thus whether they are in a good mood or not they do not gain the same kind of experience or knowledge as that of an extrovert. Thus less creativity even in a good mood.

Aug 04, 2010
86 people is not a representative sample of 7 billion people.

Aug 05, 2010
Calling extroverts more superficial is a stereotype more then anything else. There is no proven data to show that an outgoing individual is any less "deep" then one that prefers to be by themselves.

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