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Schizotypy and mental health amongst poets, visual artists, and mathematicians

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Daniel Nettle


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Many researchers have found evidence of an association between creativity and the predisposition to mental illness. However, a number of questions remain unanswered. First, it is not clear whether healthy creatives have a milder loading on schizotypal traits than people who suffer serious psychopathology, or whether they have an equal loading, but other mediating characteristics. Second, most of the existing research has concentrated on artistic creativity, and the position of other creative domains is not yet clear. The present study compares schizotypy profiles using the O-LIFE inventory in a large sample of poets, artists, mathematicians, the general population, and psychiatric patients. Poets and artists have levels of unusual experiences that are higher than controls, and as high as schizophrenia patients. However, they are relatively low on the dimension of introvertive anhedonia. Mathematicians are lower than controls on unusual experiences. The results suggest that artistic creatives and psychiatric patients share a tendency to unusual ideas and experiences, but creative groups are distinguished by the absence of anhedonia and avolition. Moreover, different domains of creativity require different cognitive profiles, with poetry and art associated with divergent thinking, schizophrenia and affective disorder, and mathematics associated with convergent thinking and autism. © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Nettle D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Research in Personality

Year: 2006

Volume: 40

Issue: 6

Pages: 876-890

ISSN (print): 0092-6566

ISSN (electronic): 1095-7251

Publisher: Academic Press


DOI: 10.1016/j.jrp.2005.09.004


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