Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Creative Personality

I recently saw a link to this Psychology Today article on the creative personality at Conservative Grapevine and thought I would share it with you (it is several years old but still worth a read). Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of such books as Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, summarizes the ten points of the creative personality. You can read the article to see all ten but here are a few of the highlights that caught my eye:

Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they're also often quiet and at rest. They work long hours, with great concentration, while projecting an aura of freshness and enthusiasm. This suggests a superior physical endowment, a genetic advantage. Yet it is surprising how often individuals who in their seventies and eighties exude energy and health remember childhoods plagued by illness. It seems that their energy is internally generated, due more to their focused minds than to the superiority of their genes....

The earliest longitudinal study of superior mental abilities, initiated at Stanford University by the psychologist Lewis Terman in 1921, shows rather conclusively that children with very high IQs do well in life, but after a certain point IQ does not seem to be correlated any longer with superior performance in real life. Later studies suggest that the cutoff point is around 120; it might be difficult to do creative work with a lower IQ, but an IQ beyond 120 does not necessarily imply higher creativity....

Creative people are humble and proud at the same time. It is remarkable to meet a famous person who you expect to be arrogant or supercilious, only to encounter self-deprecation and shyness instead....

Creative people are both rebellious and conservative. It is impossible to be creative without having first internalized an area of culture. So it's difficult to see how a person can be creative without being both traditional and conservative and at the same time rebellious and iconoclastic.

I have conducted thousands of IQ tests in my career and I must say that IQ is overrated. I have seen lawyers with 105 IQs who are performing well at their jobs and seem to be creative and others who scored over 140 who are unemployed and talking about what geniuses they are. It seems like the more a person talks about how smart and bright they are, the less creative and really productive they really are. Have you noticed that?

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Are Obama's positions those of most Americans?

I was flipping through a new book on Obama entitled The Audacity of Deceit: Barack Obama's War on American Values, and read an interesting chapter entitled, "The Barack Obama Test."

The author used questions gathered from The Associated Television News/Zogby America poll of 1005 voters to find out if people agreed or disagreed with the positions of Obama. Some questions were posed to all Americans and other questions were posed to the 70% of Americans who paid taxes and then to the 30% who do not pay taxes (isn't it amazing that almost 30% of Americans do not pay federal taxes! Personally, I think that if we have a federal tax, then all Americans should be required to pay taxes of some sort--but that's a whole other topic).

Here are a few examples of questions that were asked: "Should a doctor give medical care to a fetus that survives an abortion, or should medical care not be given?" Obama's position (according to the book) is that care should not be given; only 17.7%of Americans agreed. A full 67.8% believed that medical care should be given and 14.5 % are not sure.

On a Second Amendment question, "Would you favor or oppose a law that banned the sale of handguns?" 36% of Americans agree with Obama and would favor such a law but 59% of Americans opposed it and 5% aren't sure.

Let's turn to taxes. "How much should Americans who earn $1 million per year pay in federal income taxes?" 50.1 % of those who paid taxes said that Americans who earn that much should pay 35% or less and 52.3% of those who do not pay taxes thought that 35% or less was fair. Not bad--almost even--but Obama's position (again, according to the book, his positions seem to be changing) is that the taxpayer should pay 35% or more and only 33.2% of all Americans agree with him, 33.1% of taxpayers and 33.4% of those who do not pay.

Healthcare is another area where most Americans have a different take than Obama, unless they pay no federal taxes. The question posed was, "Do you agree or disagree with Barack Obama's $65 billion dollar plan to institute taxpayer-funded universal health coverage, which would provide health insurance for those currently uninsured, including illegal immigrants?" 31% of those who paid taxes agreed with the plan and 65.1% disagreed, with 3.9% unsure. Those who did not pay taxes were split with 46.5% agreeing with such a plan and 45.5% disagreeing; 8% were unsure.

The author correctly points out that many Americans who say they are for the change that Obama has in mind have different positions than those taken by Obama but don't seem to realize it. Maybe after reading this book, they will.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Ask Dr. Helen: Is this election causing more male bashing?

My PJM column is up:

Is it open season on men this election year? I have noticed an upswing in the amount of blatant male bashing going on in the media and blogs as of late. Let me give you a few examples.

Read the column and see if you agree or disagree.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

If you're a Democrat, would you eat the family dog?

Apparently, liberal students at the University of Pennsylvania would according to an essay on moral behavior by Jonathan Haidt, an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia:

For my dissertation research, I made up stories about people who did things that were disgusting or disrespectful yet perfectly harmless. For example, what do you think about a woman who can't find any rags in her house so she cuts up an old American flag and uses the pieces to clean her toilet, in private? Or how about a family whose dog is killed by a car, so they dismember the body and cook it for dinner? I read these stories to 180 young adults and 180 eleven-year-old children, half from higher social classes and half from lower, in the USA and in Brazil. I found that most of the people I interviewed said that the actions in these stories were morally wrong, "even when nobody was harmed. Only one group—college students at Penn—consistently exemplified Turiel's definition of morality and overrode their own feelings of disgust to say that harmless acts were not wrong. (A few even praised the efficiency of recycling the flag and the dog).

. ....The second conclusion was that the moral domain varies across cultures. Turiel's description of morality as being about justice, rights, and human welfare worked perfectly for the college students I interviewed at Penn, but it simply did not capture the moral concerns of the less elite groups—the working-class people in both countries who were more likely to justify their judgments with talk about respect, duty, and family roles. ("Your dog is family, and you just don't eat family.")

Haidt's essay is very interesting and is more about the different ways that liberals and conservatives view the world in terms of morality (although I think some of what he says is incorrect) than just about the family dog but it is definitely worth a read.

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Dr. Melissa Clouthier at PJM: "You can be fit and fat."