This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Australia, which closed in 2021.

How To Know If You Have A Creative Personality

How well do you embrace uncertainty?
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Do you have a creative personality?

The key to working this out lies in the core characteristic of creativity -- divergent thinking. Divergent means 'tending to be different or develop in different directions' and if you are a divergent thinker you are able to look at a problem or question and generate lots of possible solutions or answers to resolve that issue.

"When someone is being creative they tend to be able to engage in this divergent thinking process, so when they begin the process of solving a problem... they are able to think in this broad way where they look at lots of possibilities, instead of getting caught up where they are looking for the right answer or that one perfect solution," Associate Professor David Cropley told HuffPost Australia.

In fact, creative tendencies are linked to the 'openness to experience' personality type, which is one of the Big 5 personality traits. 'Openness to experience' describes a person who seeks adventures, is curious and has unusual ideas.

This person is also imaginative, independent and prioritises variety of experience over order and routine. Cropley said these elements form part of a creative personality and characterise an individual who can manage uncertainty.

Creative people are curious and seek adventures.
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Creative people are curious and seek adventures.

"Creative people also have this ability to not be put-off by uncertainty and a lack of clarity," Cropley said.

"A creative person seems to have an ability to look at the world and say 'I don't care if there is lack of clarity and uncertainty, that allows me to think of lots of ideas,' whereas some people look at that as a bad thing and they try to shut down in the face of uncertainty."

Creativity is important because it's one of the cornerstones of innovation and advancement. It also helps us manage our everyday lives and adapt to the challenges of a fast-changing and dynamic world.

Creativity enables innovation.
Kelvin Murray
Creativity enables innovation.

"Divergent thinking itself is something, but when you can use [it] to solve a problem so we can do things better and to adapt to changes in your life... [it's a] vital ingredient to dealing with a world where change is constant," Cropley said.

"[It can be] how to get home if the trains are broken or how to invent a cure for cancer. All of these things throw up new challenges to us all the time."

Not a natural adventure seeker or prefer order and routine? Well, that's not a problem at all. Anyone can learn to think divergently and boost creativity. Cropley describes creativity as a habit, meaning that it can be improved with practice and reinforcement.

Four Easy Ways To Boost Your Creativity

1. Experience New Things

Going out of your way to be open to new experiences will strengthen your ability to adapt to a new situation, be it a new city when travelling or a new project at work. When you are out actively seeking new experiences, problems will arise that will require you to think divergently about solving that issue.

Cropley says that embracing uncertainty will result in the most creative answers, and after a while this response will become natural.

"It is basically a habit and like any habit you can work on it and get better at it... [it] becomes part of your routine, so deliberately allow yourself to experience new things."

2. Question Assumptions

This one is all about questioning the status-quo.

"So when you encounter a new situation and you say, 'we always do it like this' -- stop and go for a moment -- 'why is it like that, why do we always do it like that?' and say 'is there a better way that we could do it?' So don't just accept assumptions at face value," Cropley said.

3. Expose Yourself To Sensible Risks

These are low-risk decisions but they can help boost creative thinking.

"Risk taking is an inherent part of creativity and you kind of build up an immunity to the fear of risk taking often."

An example could be driving home a different way and risking a slower commute time. These small risks teach you that risk taking can be necessary to experiencing new things.

4. Learn To Tolerate Uncertainty

Tolerance of uncertainty and ambiguity are vital to opening yourself up to creativity.

"Some people don't like uncertainty and avoid it and other people roll with it," Cropley said.

"There are times when people are faced with a situation where they don't know what to do and instead of shutting down and waiting until it resolves itself people embrace it -- this is an opportunity to embrace it and try something."

Cropley says that simply encouraging yourself to be creative can actually lead to authentic divergent thinking.

"It is well known in creativity research that just saying to a person 'I want you to be creative now,' has an impact on a person's creativity.

"It's almost like giving the person psychological permission to think creativity can boost creativity in a positive way."

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