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Teaching originality? Common habits behind creative production in science and arts

Marten Scheffer, Wageningen Agricultural University
Matthijs Baas, University of Amsterdam
Tone K Bjordam, Independent artist, Oslo, Norway

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-09258-220229

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Abstract

Originality is a prerequisite for world-changing science and arts alike, but it cannot be taught. Or can it? Here, we show that a set of habits that are—surprisingly—shared among successful artists and scientists may catalyze creative output. We reveal three groups of such habits, each corresponding to a cluster of personality traits, shown to be shared by creative artists and scientists. The first habit group “embrace the unexpected” corresponds to the character trait “openness to new experiences” and encompasses tendencies to go ahead without a plan, collect diverse experiences, and take risks. The second group “create conditions for creation” links to the personality trait “autonomous” and encompasses simple habits such as making empty time and carrying a notebook. The third class of habits “break away from dogma” links to the shared personality trait “norm doubting” and stands for a strong drive to escape from established systems and also occasionally destroy part of one’s own work to break tunnel vision and start anew. Although personality traits are hard to change, the habits we found hint at techniques or skills that may be taught.

Key words

arts; character traits; creativity; habits; originality; science; teaching; teams

Copyright © 2017 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087