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Neuroticism can be linked to creativity, new study shows

New scientific evidence suggests that people who score higher on measures of neuroticism also score higher in creativity. Photo credit: Flickr user Francesco (Creative Commons)

New scientific evidence suggests that people who score higher on measures of neuroticism also score higher in creativity. If there is a causal relationship, the logic might go something like this: people who are neurotic are prone to overthinking and more likely to imagine threats that are not really there.

Such overactive imaginations could give way to creative problem-solving breakthroughs rather than a nervous breakdown. Some of the greatest thinkers in our history—Isaac Newton, Michelangelo, and Woody Allen—have all had reputations for being neurotic. A team of researchers on this subject say there is now good neural science to back this theory up.

As reported by Forbes, Adam Perkins of Kings College London, says in summary that, if you happen to have predominant, negative self-generated thoughts due to high levels of spontaneous activity in the parts of your prefrontal cortex that govern conscious perception of threat, then you have a tendency to enter a state of panic sooner than an average person and can experience intense negative emotions even when there is no present threat.

In other words people who are ‘thinkers’ tend to spontaneously generate more worry because of activities in the amygdala part of their brain that governs fear and emotion. Since these kinds of people are more prone to panic and conjuring up empty threats, they also are able to conjure up ideas that are more insightful and creative to problem-solving.

Meditation has been suggested as a good exercise for neurotic people to keep their emotions under control. It is known to reduce activity in areas of the brain that govern self-referential and wandering thoughts. Fortunately, there also is good evidence that it does not seem to reduce creativity potential and may in fact increase it.

Whatever the case, if you are neurotic do not take it as your downfall- it may be linked to some hidden creativity you never knew you had. On the contrary, Pollyanna types—ones who are cheerful and happy-go-lucky and do not dwell on problems— are therefore at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to problem solving compared to a more neurotic person.

Sid Motaghi

Sid Motaghi

Staff Writer
Sid Motaghi has a B.F.A. in Film and a M.A. in Media Studies from The New School. He is now a contributing writer on Science Recorder, Moviepilot, and Study of Anime from time to time. He is also into screenwriting and creative writing, now writing a few short stories to supplement his screenplay and graphic novel he is currently working on.
About Sid Motaghi (22 Articles)
Sid Motaghi has a B.F.A. in Film and a M.A. in Media Studies from The New School. He is now a contributing writer on Science Recorder, Moviepilot, and Study of Anime from time to time. He is also into screenwriting and creative writing, now writing a few short stories to supplement his screenplay and graphic novel he is currently working on.
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