Openness to Experience – That Liberal Je Ne Sais Quoi

Forgot where he put his weed.

Looking for the anthology on existentialism, or maybe just his stash of weed.

Whatever you think of the Big Five personality model, most of its traits are easy to understand. Extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness are all pretty much what they sound like. Neuroticism is a little more problematic since it deals with emotional instability but only in regard to negative emotions, but it’s still easy to understand what it means – being anxious, worrisome, sometimes depressed. But then there is openness to experience. You’d think that would be equally straight-forward: being into new experiences, like travelling and experiencing other cultures, having broad interests, making new friends, maybe sexual experimentation and trying drugs as well. Not so much.

The Official Picture

Here is a list of words and phrases that psychologists feel characterizes this trait,

Intellectual, imaginative, artistic, cultured, refined, original, insightful, curious, creative, independent and divergent thinkers, appreciation of art and beauty, willingness to consider new ideas, unconventional.

And here are some test items that measure openness,

Have a rich vocabulary.

Have a vivid imagination.

Have excellent ideas.

Quick to understand things.

Use difficult words.

Spend time reflecting on things.

Am full of ideas.

Carry the conversation to a higher level.

Catch on to things quickly.

Love to think up new ways of doing things.

Love to read challenging material.

Am good at many things.

Or in reverse,

Have difficulty understanding abstract ideas.

Am not interested in abstract ideas.

Do not have a good imagination.

Try to avoid complex people.

Have difficulty imagining things.

Avoid difficult reading material.

Will not probe deeply into a subject.

Intelligence and Creativity

When looking at these items, it’s pretty easy to notice two separate factors, one of intelligence,

Intellectual, have a rich vocabulary, quick to understand things, spend time reflecting on things, catch on to things quickly. (Whoever makes these tests clearly has a thing for the word “thing”.)

And one of creativity,

Have vivid imagination, have excellent ideas, full of ideas, love to think up new ways of doing things.

This is not something I personally discovered just now. Already back in 1981 psychologists John Digman and Naomi Takemoto-Chock analyzed the openness factor and found two sub-factors, “one of which appeared to be concerned more with intelligence, the other with matters of culture.” Others have referred to these factors as “reflection and curiosity/experimentation/hypotheses testing.” (Couldn’t find a link to the article so if you have one please let me know.)

Not that there is anything wrong with combining two traits into one. The trait of psychopathy is a combination of impulsivity and lack of empathy. That’s a meaningful construct because while both factors are relatively harmful the combination produces a type of person that make up less than one percent of the population but 20 percent of all convicts. And many of the other prisoners are afraid of them. That effect makes it a useful construct.

Openness, however, is supposed to be a broad factor of personality, a basic building block that only breaks down into aspects of itself, so-called facets. Like the shades of a color. Although some facets of other Big Five factors are questionable, the overall picture is clear – they are really aspects of the same thing, not combinations of essentially different traits. The same goes for broad factors of other models, like those of Eysenck, Cloninger or the MBTI, based on Jung’s theory.  So you might say such a factor is a contradiction in terms – it’s not broad or basic, it’s narrow and specific.

The Correlates – In Search of the Je Ne Sais Quois Factor

Unless of course you think of intelligence and creativity as two aspects of some underlying factor that is for some reason called openness to experience. But what would that factor be? We all know what conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism and extraversion boil down to, but what is the core of openness to experience? It’s clearly not being literally open to experience because sensation seekers and the similar novelty seekers are very open to various experiences and measures of those only correlate modestly with openness. Perhaps the behavioral correlates of openness can give us a hint. Unsurprisingly, it correlates to measures of intelligence and creativity but that’s to be expected since it measures exactly those traits in the tests. Is there some other correlates that suggests an underlying factor behind both of these?

Liberal values. A liberal attitude has consistently been linked to openness (as has conscientiousness to conservatism). There is some research to suggest that liberalism is linked to intelligence, although this study is of moderate quality. And artists, generally thought to be a liberal group, do score about half a standard deviation higher than non-artist according to a big meta-study made by psychologist Gregory Feist. So this correlate clearly supports the idea of a two-factor trait rather than an underlying factor of openness.

Entrepreneurship. Openness appears to be a part of the entrepreneurial personality (along with high extraversion and conscientiousness and low agreeableness and neuroticism). But this is almost by definition a matter of creativity and most likely to some degree intelligence, so again nothing lurking beneath these two factors.

Migration. People high on openness tend to move around more, both within and between countries. Could be something beyond intelligence and creativity. I don’t see it, but let me know if you do.

Extramarital Affairs. This has not been properly established. There is a huge global study on this that found no link between openness and infidelity. (Instead it found this to be a matter of low agreeableness and low conscientiousness.)

Trying new foods. This sounds like creativity maybe in conjunction with a liberal appreciation of other cultures.  And of course a bit of sensation seeking since as I mentioned before this trait has a modest correlation to openness.

Tattoos and piercing. I haven’t found any evidence that this relates to intelligence or even creativity. On the other hand, what underlying factor of openness would it be an indication of?

The Mystic Component

Dreams. People who score high on openness remember their dreams and often use their dreams to solve problems. This may be something that isn’t just a matter of intelligence or creativity or a combination of both. I have yet to see any research to confirm it but it’s a possibility perhaps suggesting that openness is some form of transcendent quality.

Spirituality. This somewhat vague dimension of religiousness, often defined more as a quest than a belief, has been found to correlate with openness.

Schizotypy. This trait, which is basically schizophrenia light, is also linked to openness.

This certainly looks like a candidate for an underlying factor but it’s most likely not. In a large high quality study of religion and intelligence, psychologist Gary Lewis found a correlation between spirituality and IQ of -0.05, which he generously refers to as support of the stronger inversed relation found by Kanazawa and others, but in reality it indicates that there is no relation between the two whatsoever. Other research has shown schizotypy to be linked to creativity so it would seem this mystic component belongs in that sub-factor.

Susan Sarandon - the poster girl for openness. Looks nice, a bit a mix between a Disney character and Mona Lisa.

Susan Sarandon – the poster girl for openness. Looks nice, like a mix between a Disney character and Mona Lisa.

In Any Way Useful?

But even if openness fails miserably, in my opinion, as a broad factor of personality it could still be useful. The two-factor trait of psychopathy has relevance in many situations, indeed, no one would find it irrelevant to know if the person in front of them is a psychopath or not.

Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be the case with openness. The correlates I’ve mentioned above represent a large portion of what we know about this trait. And they don’t suggest any real need for this trait at all. They can all be reduced to either intelligence or creativity or a unsynergistic combination of the two. With the possible exception of something like migration and tattoos and piercing. Compare this with just a few correlates of conscientiousness like divorce rate, overweight and health, school and work performance and leadership. It’s just very hard to understand what use psychology (or anyone) can have of the trait openness to experience.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

And yet, if we combine all the features and correlates into a portrait we might find a clue to have this trait has become so prominent in personality psychology. The open person is of high intelligence and presumably also creative. He (or she) is a liberal with interests that lean more towards the humanities and soft science than hard science. He is not an atheist but also not part of traditional religion – a searcher rather than a dogmatic person. To me, this sounds a bit like a well-educated hippie, a White Californian, like for instance the always interesting blogger Santi Tafarella. But more than anything else, it sounds like a psychologist.

 

 

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43 Responses to Openness to Experience – That Liberal Je Ne Sais Quoi

  1. I have known many psychologists. I’ll have to think about that WRT openness. Maybe… but they have their own predictabilities.

    As for the descriptors, I have got to be in the 99th percentile for this one. I am postliberal, lean conservative politically and religiously. That’s only one data point, sure. But in my circle, it is the sameness and predicatbility of liberals that is most prominent. They love new restaurants and movies. But mostly they love ideas that were considered new 50 years ago, that conservatives still dislike. Not that conservatives are the opposite. They like ideas that were new 100 years ago. But the actual newness-love seems evenly distributed.

    I think intelligence leads to (justified) confidence in one’s adaptability, so that there is less risk in new experiences. Same payoff + less risk = more behavior. Doesn’t always work, but it should trend that way. I also wonder what experiences are being counted as “new.” People who love travel to other countries, but seek out the same sort of people – I’m thinking Junior Year Abroad, journalists, academics – may not be experiencing the same degree of newness as those in more traditionally conservative groups who go abroad and have wildly new experiences: the military, businessmen, religious mission volunteers. I don’t doubt that liberals are scoring higher on some variant of this, but I wonder if a subset is skewing the data.

    • Staffan says:

      Being into paranormal stuff, I’ve noticed that you don’t have to go to many lectures or seminars on that subject to bumb into a surprising number of psychologists. Other academics usually research this sort of thing as a belief rather than a possibility.

      Sure, most people with this trait have a shallow interest in novelty. They typically gentrify and eat at the local ethnic restaurants as a way of staying open. Genuine openness is probably rare and may in the current situation be more linked to people who identify as conservatives. But even so I think they are on the average a little more open than conservatives. Keep in mind that a lot of what is conservatism is about taking the Bible literally. That to me makes the rank order pretty clear.

      Which subset do you think would be skewing the data?

    • Sisyphean says:

      This is an interesting comment because I’ve had the opposite experience. I am a visual artist who works a day job as an enterprise software developer. I work with a lot of highly intelligent but very boring people. I go to new restaurants and try the most interesting things on the menu, I try out for (and act in) plays in the local theater productions, I paint and draw and write for fun, I make, serve and eat insect and worm based meals for my Halloween party guests… and the other guys (and a few gals) that I work with do none of those things. If I talk to a male co worker he wants to talk about sports or fishing (arguably also a sport, I consider it a leisure activity), if it’s a female, she’ll talk about her family. And all that said, I am dead serious when I say that a lot of my coworkers would probably score themselves above average on openness to experience. In their minds they _are_ open to new things and I’m just a complete nut.

      ~S

  2. JayMan says:

    Just want to let you know that I read this and am interested. Will have a more detailed response tomorrow. 🙂

  3. […] Openness to Experience – That Liberal Je Ne Sais Quoi | Staffan's Personality Blog […]

  4. Gottlieb says:

    The problem of testing iq and especially this g factor is that they summarize and categorize the complexity of the human mind in a single block, when in fact, it is divided into several other categories. Instead of a Mount Fuji, such as a bel curve, the human mind and its variability would be like the Andes, with many variations. This does not invalidate the tests iq however, but the fact is that in our daily life we see all the time, people with intelligence asymmetrical with a strong tendency autistic-style specialization. The IQ test can not explain why an autistic child with IQ 107 can be as intelligent as a child with IQ 10 points higher. (Or more).
    I see both intelligence and creativity as combinations of cognitive styles and personality, more than just abstract numbers, despite not taking any validity of IQ tests because they measure yes indeed something. The problem of determinism iq currently in hbdosphere, is that it is only appropriate response to egalitarian leftist dogmatism that has been hegemonic today, an appropriate response but not rational, because it is reversing again. I do not agree that good people always divide into left and right in the socio-political spectrum, this is stupid.

    ttp://talentdevelop.com/articles/TCPTPT.html

    I liked the assignments linked to this creative personality psychologist named unpalatable postulated. I identified considerably but always think it can be more like an effect Barnaum.

    • Staffan says:

      It’s always good to keep in mind that IQ is not what SJ Gould called a mismeasure of man – it’s merely a measure of the capacity for abstract thought. But even with this limited scope it is linked to so many important outcomes – education, work performance, income, health etc – that there is good reason to be focused on it.

      Regarding the politics of HBD, Most are probably some type of conservatives but I suspect there is more variety in HBD than among its liberal critics. Which to me suggests that this is a field for those who have genuine openness rather than the exotic food variety.

      • Gottlieb says:

        IQ tests measure very well the correlations with a dominant type of human intelligence, more technical than intellectual, less energetic, and more systematic but without the obsession found on the autistic spectrum. People who have greater brain activity tend to become over time bored, neurotic and depressive. In other words, the most intelligent people tend to be hyper sensitive and end up getting out. We live in a society where all people should suit the style of dominant intelligence not to mention the bureaucratic nature of education.

  5. Staffan says:

    Gottlieb: It seems to me that you are talking more about creativity than intelligence. I know people do this since Howard Gardner popularized the idea that we are all highly intelligent one way or the other, but it makes it very hard to have a discussion. It would make more sense if you said something to the effect that HBDrs underestimate the importance of creativity.

    • Gottlieb says:

      I’m speaking of both , since creativity is a form of intelligence . I partially agree with Gardner , but I believe he overstates the conclusion that everyone has some sort of intelligence. If you understood my metaphor on Mount Fuji ( a single bell curve) in relation to the Andes ( many bell curves ) , you realize that not everyone will obviously have high skills , but as human skills are many, it is not possible in my opinion , that most if not all cognitive abilities and cognitive styles of humans can fit on a single bell curve . The g factor works for people with intelligence symmetric ( relatively good in most aspects of intelligence ) and technical (less emotional, intellectual and sensory intelligence and more abstract and systematic technique , this type of intelligence that prevails among humans ) .
      The school acts as a funnel to this type of intelligence. In my country the exams to get into college , until recently , were based on general knowledge of the subjects we learn in school , in other words, selects the high qis technical and systematic , because the country needs experts and maintainers of specific functions , ie , the world is a big factory -style ” fordism”
      Another component that I think should be better analyzed in relation to intelligence could be sensory capabilities , which I attribute to an ability to understand the environment , psychopaths and sociopaths are exceptional in this category , but many others that are not within these two segments also may exhibit this ability . This component would be the survival instinct seems to me that many have not.
      I would like in a future gathering all viewpoints on intelligence so that you can actually find the creative geniuses and not just people with high IQ . I like the idea of the HSP and the theory of positive disintegration of personality , Dabrowski , they can be more comprehensive regarding the different types of skills as well as the similarities of personality found in people with high potential and not only the nerds in good physical . Not that they do not have their value , but I believe that human intelligence is complex but measurable , then your possibility of measuring not only be unique but also tend to find different ways.
      I speak for myself , I am sure I can not have a high general intelligence , for my handicapped however , I need not tell you that I’m smart ….
      It is the famous case of Feynman, considered by many as one of the smartest people with modest IQ around 125, while, according to my perception, the very high SQI exhibit great technical skills, systematic, but does not have the famous flame madness that has created this whole world for humans, since their beliefs to their toilets.
      Half of intelligence can be understood and explained by personality, a test of intelligence will only complete clinical evaluation of this component, giving it a higher value than it seems it has received by professionals in the field of mental health.

      • Janon says:

        Is there any documentation for Feynman’s IQ score. People bring it up all the time, but I’ve never seen any objective support. Feynman loved to play games and slay other peoples’ sacred cows, so I wouldn’t necessarily trust him if he offered that as his score.

  6. Sisyphean says:

    Interesting post. I can definitely see how the openness dimension conflates two different items. Further, given my experience I’d expect intellectuals to score higher than they should on openness and creatives to score lower than they should on this trait. I know so many intelligent people who blather incessantly about how creative they are yet the walls of their homes remain plastered in the art of others, technical drawings, or nothing at all. I think it’s natural for the intellectually gifted to assume they are good at all cognitive pursuits without understanding that with creativity also comes the impulse to create! Being able to draw does not make one an artist, just as being able to write does not make one a novelist. Artists make art, novelists write novels. Intellectuals talk about doing those things.

    On the other side of that, being an artist and a board member of a local visual arts organization has afforded me the opportunity to meet many other artists. Some of them are intelligent but few would I describe as ‘intellectual’. And of course, common among them all is the undeniable impulse to create. Every single artist I know has more work stashed in their home than they know what to do with.

    I think the defining measure of benign schitzotypy with respect to creativity has got to be ideaphoria. People who display this trait can come with many many wildly divergent ideas in a short period, often with incredible ease. The hardest part for them (I should say ‘us’ because I struggle with this also) is the culling part of the creative process: winnowing your hundred ideas down to the best ones. Of course, it’s not all great. Artists have a reputation for being flakes that I think is well deserved. Trying to get us together just to have a meeting to discuss something everyone has said they want to discuss makes herding cats seem like child’s play.

    ~S

    • Staffan says:

      There is a big question mark regarding the validity of creativity measures. According to Feist, artist do score high on this trait but merely being an artist is not really the same as being creative, depending on definition. The obvious validation would be to have people who have been around for a while and are consistently appreciated take the test.

      In general I suspect you’re right, the majority of “open” people are simply liberals with an artsy persona. But given the correlation with schizotypy there is probably some link between openness and genuin creativity as well. After all, creativity is often about solving problems and seeing possibilities, and that should translate to a more reformist attitude.

      • Sisyphean says:

        The biggest problem with the creativity measures I’ve seen are two fold: They are terribly subjective in their scoring and where they aren’t subjective they’re stupidly easy to game. I mean, once you know you need come up with as many uses for a brick as possible and that even the most wild uses are allowed, then it’s easy to dump fifty of them out. Then I guess it really becomes a question of how easily you can break the frame on a common object: Brick is used for building and heavy so can be used for bashing or obstructing… but why not as brickman the exceptionally useless superhero or Dr. Brick the inordinately quiet but still highly effective psychoanalyst?

        ~S

      • Staffan says:

        That seems to be the measure of associative gradient that may be at the heart of creativity, or at least the impulse or idea of it – as you said culling is another aspect, as well as expression and, not least important, the ability to complete project. Brick by brick can be very hard for an impulsive thinker.

  7. JayMan says:

    OK, now for my thought out comment:

    It is interesting that there doesn’t appear to be as strong an inverse link between IQ and religiosity when you break the latter down by component. It seems to match my experience that most “secular” people aren’t all that irreligious at all (very few people are truly irreligious as I am).

    As to the utility of openness as a construct, despite the serious limitations you’ve highlighted, it clearly has some utility, since it does correlate with a host of things. Most poignantly, at least in America, is fertility. Openness to experience, whatever it is, isn’t just an artifact of IQ because openness predicts fertility net of IQ:

    Expectations and reality: a window into the liberal-conservative baby gap | JayMan’s Blog

    That said, it is clear from your description that the construct, as it is, is clearly confounded with IQ.

    I’d at least remodel it this way:

    Have a rich vocabulary.

    Have a vivid imagination.

    Have excellent ideas.

    Quick to understand things.

    Use difficult words.

    Spend time reflecting on things.

    Am full of ideas.

    Carry the conversation to a higher level.

    Catch on to things quickly.

    Love to think up new ways of doing things.

    Love to read challenging material.

    Am good at many things.

    Or in reverse,

    Have difficulty understanding abstract ideas.

    Am not interested in abstract ideas.

    Do not have a good imagination.

    Try to avoid complex people.

    Have difficulty imagining things.

    Avoid difficult reading material.

    Will not probe deeply into a subject.

    That removes most of the items that clearly dependent on IQ.

    I think it’s OK to leave creativity as being related to openness. The preponderance of leftism among artistic types suggests that creative people are indeed more likely to be liberal (again, assuming that “being liberal” is a valid aspect of openness).

    While the two are related, having a high IQ isn’t necessarily indicative of curiosity. There are plenty of intelligent, incurious people.

    • Staffan says:

      I don’t think it will correlate much with anything when you take IQ and measures of creativity and general artsyness out of it. My point is that this mixing and renaming old stuff. And about liberals painting a pretty picture of themselves.

      It’s hard to know what the link between openness and fertility is about but if I was to guess I’d say it’s that liberals are more genetically similar to the outbred people of Northwestern Europe. They have less familial altruism and more individualism and that alone could account for a lot of this difference.

  8. JayMan says:

    Hmmm…. for the previous comment, none of my strikethroughs seems to show. If they show there, can you fix my comment? If not, I’ll try it again.

    • Staffan says:

      They don’t show. Maybe just list the items you want to include?

      • JayMan says:

        And just when I was trying to be all fancy… :p

        Keep these:

        Have a vivid imagination.

        Spend time reflecting on things.

        Am full of ideas.

        Love to think up new ways of doing things.

        Love to read challenging material.

        Or in reverse,

        Do not have a good imagination.

        Try to avoid complex people.

        Have difficulty imagining things.

        Then you might have a useful measure. Instantly I wonder what it’d look like…

      • Staffan says:

        If I’m right, the that would be a traditional measure of creativity. I just can’t find more than those two factors along with a hint of humanities in this. If your looking for some underlying, more basic factor, Sisyphean mentioned schizotypy. But that’s only a likely explanation of creativity, it doesn’t correlate to intelligence.

      • Sisyphean says:

        If it were me jayman, I’d add questions about contrarian thinking in there. I see that so, so often among highly creative people: If I tell them everyone went to the left, they will instantly want to know what is to the right. I think it’s ingrained.

        Interestingly the guy at similarminds.com created a new scale derived from the OCEAN that he calls the MOTIV scale. He modified the Openness to be asked differently to measure: Offbeat thinking Vs Conventional thinking. I found it very interesting.

        ~S

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  10. panjoomby says:

    similar to the ol’ myers briggs intuition vs. sensing (“N” vs “S” = open to thinking about abstract ideas vs. literal & straightforward) which, even tho that was an armchair hypothesis, correlated somewhat with IQ, as (however horribly measured & vague a concept) does “creativity” — a la Jensen, for someone to be creative they have to be bright (IQ-ish above a certain level) but just b/c they’re bright does not guarantee they’ll be “creative” — i found Gottlieb’s mount fuji analogy confusing in terms of actual empirical data & distributions of various traits in the population – while the analogy is “creative” it misses the mark of what mental measurement science does & how these traits are distributed in the population, & that many traits, outcomes & heritabilities correlate with “g.” thank god nobody brought up “emotional intelligence” or i would puke up a lung.

    • Staffan says:

      Regarding other abilities and Mount Fuji, it seems to boild down to the fact people still believe in Gould’s straw man of IQ as a “measure of man”. I agree with Gottlieb that there are other abilities, that’s obvious, but giving everything the same name is confusing. These terminological games seem to be about trying to deflate the status of IQ while simultaneuosly feeding off it – claiming IQ isn’t so much and then inflating their preferred abilities by calling them intelligence.

      Yes, openness is very similar to MBTI N. Jung’s own description of intuition contains unflattering versions like scheming women and cult leaders who believe in their own nonsense. Regardless of how accurate that was it is clear that Isabel Briggs Myers and her followers transformed the N dimension into the trait for the smart and creative. Only at least with N you don’t have to be into the humanities to be fancy : )

    • Gottlieb says:

      Panjoomby,

      What I ‘m trying to compare is the famous bell curve that has been used to explain all the variations of human intelligence , which I think is not true , with a possible readjustment to the complexity of intelligence , especially at the highest levels , ie , continue to maintain the distribution of intelligence in the classic style , but always with the mind and making it clear that ” the Earth does not have a smooth surface .” The current psychometricians are looking for human intelligence from afar , like the Earth ” ” seems to be an almost perfect sphere , the closer he is consistently irregular . For example , a person who has intelligence asymmetric ( very good at anything , really bad at something else ) will not satisfactorily their general capacity as measured by a general iq test ( a test that emphasizes the overall capacity ) .
      If human intelligence is complex so we’ll let laziness aside and seek to understand it so that we can then measure it satisfactorily .
      And in the case of creativity , it seems very clear to me that you need one or two doses of mental disorder so she can manifest a comment and I read very quietly , but it struck me ( why he had not thought of that before ? ) . Intelligence asymmetric either indicate an imbalance of skills and also health , or reduced fitness or mental disorder .
      I think people with high IQ generally are precisely those nerds extremely healthy while the artist suffered or mad scientist ( the creative geniuses ) tend to be those with asymmetric intelligence , where a skill is greatly increased at the expense of others.
      Another though about testing relates directly to self functioning autistic and aspergers with below average IQ . Clearly, these people tend to exhibit a high intellectual intelligence with extreme tendency to systematization , however , in many cases the IQ can not satisfactorily measure their skills . The iq is multidimensional , especially for people fitted with intelligence complex . The iq is very clearly a test done for a specific type of cognitive style that covers the majority of the population , but the more intelligent the subject is more complex and is obviously their intelligence too.

  11. Gottlieb says:

    I emphasize that these changes will not encompass the majority of the population, a small minority of people will benefit from this adjustment.
    Another thing that I think I already said here about brain power. There are people who are 24 hours a day thinking about everything and it contributes greatly to the creativity, because you keep fresh ideas and thoughts while for a good part of the population, the ideas are thrown in the attic of the brain. Do not just have a high IQ, it is also important to be born with major brain power.
    The more intelligent one is spending more time thinking and it also has adverse effects like high propensity to neurotic or psychotic episodes. These people have a much more accurate in the world and this no doubt is terrifying, it’s like opening Pandora’s box.

  12. panjoomby says:

    thank you, it’s more clear & less mystical to me now! the following is not my area, but there has been some research, by Wai, Lubinski, Benbow, et al, exploring how among gifted math folks, verbal & spatial exist almost as a bipolar/dichotomous variable (it may be if you partial out “g” then the higher one is on spatial the more their verbal drops, etc.) i remember being struck at the idea that it’s like robbing peter to pay paul – one can be even better at ___, at the expense of ___. as in: some patterns confer a strength, while also bestowing a weakness – a fruitful area for research.
    …the more verbal plus introvert someone is, the more they may spend time in their head with words & ruminating & worrying about multiple consequences, & become higher on neuroticism, more depressed, etc.
    …& very true, there are studies (at least case studies) of frontal lobe brain damage where a person still scores at gifted levels on wechsler tests, but cannot hold a job, etc.

    • Gottlieb says:

      Yes , in my opinion , the most creative geniuses have this , as you say , brain damage . I do not agree that it is brain damage , because this is a conclusion based on the retained pattern commonly found in most human brains , so the brains minority , ie , with different characteristics , are portrayed as abnormal . Normality does not actually exist .
      I mean , are people who are constantly thinking obsessively about various subjects, it makes his ideas remain spinning in their minds . The mind of these people are self addictive and repetitive .
      I think that if these people can have such fantastic ideas , to think deeply about the world , there is nothing wrong with them . If you kill someone , this someone who could be very intelligent , necessarily could have decided to terminate his own life , for reasons extremely rational . We live in societies hysterical , of a religious nature , which just leads people to believe on paternalistic grounds as ” good in life and have the sky as a dwelling during death ” . The neoteny is really the driving force of human beings , including psychological , bad for us .
      What makes humans so special compared to the rest of nature is that we tend evolutionarily individualism, a result that is almost nonexistent in most species. In all animal species there is a tribal entity gene that creates the collective consciousness for survival. The less complex it is, will be more like their components.
      The geniuses are as a category, but are saturated by different ways of trying to measure them. I think the ultimate checkmate to prove mental hierarchy within the human fauna will be the search for biological components shared by all kinds of geniuses, no matter if there are 300 features, if they exist and if they can tell us something about this puzzle as fascinating, then do so.
      I suggest that some components are essential for us to really drill the idea of ​​high ability on a scale quite high , not only intelligence tests . As I said , the organic and psychological traits should have a key role , because the geniuses not only comes in one color .
      I have read and believe that you have already read about the role of genetics in the composition of our social circle of friends. One possible explanation for the strong tendency of highly intelligent spend your life alone , is precisely their genetic uniqueness , unusual , there will not be many genes mirrors and even more with the culture lamstream contributing to the fostering of niche behavior, with liberals conservatives , rockers , rappers etc , you will usually find in a complex person of high intelligence a tendency to eclectic and therefore incompatible with the culture of division in which we live , where you can not be both at the same time.

  13. […] on “openness to experience” (see also a critical take on that particular dimension: Openness to Experience – That Liberal Je Ne Sais Quoi | Staffan’s Personality Blog) and introversion. This may be partially responsible for the distribution of personality across the […]

  14. John Danzer says:

    I am a believer in somatotype as the main cause of thegenetic temperament. The Behaviorists had the right idea to take the mind off its pedestal but they jumped right out of the body into the environment thereby missing the nature half of the nature/nurture combination.

    Now neuro-psychology is creating its own soft phrenology attributing personality to those sections of the brain that light up the most when they rank high on extroversion, compliance, agreeableness and neuroticism. The one thing that didn’t localize to any degree in the brain was openness.

    Sheldon’s method was dumped prematurely. I know how to somatotype and I did a little experiment. I don’t have access to a population of students. I wanted to see if there is a difference in somatotype between republican candidates and democratic candidates. So i figured out the somatotypes of 15 democratic leaders and 15 republican leaders. Although it would be nice to have a standard somatotype photo I think I am at least 80% accurate using published info and photos.

    I expected there wouldn’t be any difference but was surprised by the results. I plotted them as either blue (democratic) dots or red(republican) dots on the usual somatotype triangle. The somatotype triangle has Endomorphy, Mesomorphy and Ectomorphy at each of the vertices. Everyone is some combination of all but with emphasis on one of the dimensions.

    Democrats clustered in the middle suggesting a close balance of the three components but with a slight emphasis on endomorphy.
    The Republicans were mostly out on the periphery with an emphasis on mesomorphy.

    This is very suggestive and if I had the means I would test this out with the factor of openness. Of course you would expect people with balanced somatotypes wouldn’t be pulled in the direction of the passive agreeable endomorphs, the muscular action oriented mesomorphs or the cerebral ectomorphs. Those in the middle have the most options to choose from.

    Back to the brain. That’s quite likely the same reason the trait of openness lights up multiple parts of the brain.

  15. Staffan says:

    I’m not sure what the theory consists of but there are some simple ways that your body shape can correlate to personality. As has been pointed out, a big muscular guy doesn’t have to be as agreeable as a thin, especially not in an evolutionary time perspective. So we’d expect a selective pressure against skinny disagreeable individuals.

    As for openess, it’s probably related to the correlation between IQ and obesity, possibly caused by the same mutational load:

    https://jaymans.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/obesity-and-iq/

    Note that the research also links impulsiveness to obesity – which is similar to endomorphism? – a trait that appears somewhat opposite of agreeableness,

    https://staffanspersonalityblog.wordpress.com/?s=ugly+truth

  16. […] which matches nicely with the high apparent heritability of overall political orientation. Staffan has noted problems with this dimension is how it was designed in the Big Five – notably, they included an […]

  17. I think openness to experience / intuition (in myers-briggs) is my most favourite personality dimension.. it describes everything i love.. & i have a clear perception of it. part of me thinks that if we are not perceiving openness to experience in everything, we are perceiving faultily..

    • Staffan says:

      I think it’s a matter of balance. Too much openness/intuition leads to superstition and paranoia – like Hollyweird people. Too little and you can’t imagine anything and instead base everything on personal experience and/or authority.

      • Interesting point. I think I tend to undervalue low openness to experience / sensing, to the detriment of my sanity. An extreme openness to experience / intuition seems to take me away from the earthy self that i have somewhat rejected..

      • Staffan says:

        Me too. That’s just wiring. But you can always tweak things a bit. And with current technology it’s so much easier to be an empiricist than it used to.

  18. John Danzer says:

    Openness to experience is a matter of a person’s somatotype.
    Endomorphs are comfort seekers and don’t like risks or change.
    Mesomorphs are too interested in getting the JOB done to search for better ways.
    Ectomorphs are in a rut and are too critical to confront something new with an open mind.
    The midrange types that are balanced in somatotype are open to change because they don’t identify with a particular structure. Their structure is too variable – thus opening them up.

    • Staffan says:

      It’s a nice theory but I haven’t seen much evidence of these somatotypes. In my experience there are for instance plenty of openminded and fearless chubby people. And in absence of evidence what else is there but experience?

  19. I think that on of the worse problems with the concept of “openness to Experience” is the name, specially the final “to Experience”- it is this “to Experience” that could create the idea that “OtE” has anything to do with “sensation seekers”.

    About the underlying factor – perhaps a need for mental stimulation, creating both an interest in complex and intelectual activities, and also a desire tto know new things?

    Also, I think the “OtE” has more to do with intellectualism (liking intelectual activities) than with intelligence (being good in intelectual activities) – intellectualism and intelligence are closely related, but are not exactly the same thing

  20. Some data re. tattoos and piercing and cognitive ability.
    http://emilkirkegaard.dk/en/?p=5616

  21. Rachel Bartlett says:

    I’ve yet to meet a liberal who is open to experience. Most seem utterly overinvested in their various causes and are prone to cognitive dissonance when confronted with something that doesn’t easily fit into their ideology.

    Wouldn’t it make ssense to think of ‘openness to experience’ as the opposite of ‘ideological overinvestment?

    • Staffan says:

      Perhaps, but then you have people who are uninterested in politics and are still into fishtanks, mountain biking, or whatever and not open to other things.

      Genuine openness is probably very rare.

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