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Openness to Experience

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1 Openness to Experience
McCrae, R.R., & Sutin, A. R. (2009). Openness to Experience. In M.R. Leary and R.H. Hoyle (Eds.), Handbook of Individual Differences in Social Behavior (pp.257 – 273). New York: Guildford

2 McCrae & Sutin describe openness as:
“fundamentally an intrapsychic variable, associated with such esoteric phenomena as chills in response to sudden beauty, the experience of déjà vu and homesickness for the unknown”

3 Openness Facets Fantasy the tendency toward a vivid imagination and fantasy life Aesthetics the tendency to appreciate art and beauty Feelings being receptive to inner emotional states and feelings Actions the inclination to try new experiences Ideas the tendency to be intellectually curious Values the readiness to re-examine traditional social, religious, and political values

4 Open v. Closed Highly open people are seen as imaginative, sensitive to art and beauty, emotionally differentiated, behaviourally flexible, intellectually curious and liberal in values. Closed people are seen as down to earth, uninterested in art, shallow in affect, set in their ways, lacking curiosity and traditional in values.

5 Correlated with… Openness is only weakly related to general intelligence (g factor) Openness scores correlate about .40 with divergent thinking (McCrae, 1987) Openness scores correlate about .30 with verbal and facial emotional recognition tasks (Terracciano, Merritt, Zonderman, & Evans, 2003) Openness also negatively correlates with right wing authoritarianism, reported correlations of -.29 to -.63 (Trapnell,1994) Need for closure, which is the desire for definite answers is negatively correlated with openness, about -.42 (Webster & Kruglanski, 1994) Need for cognition, which is people who pursue ideas vigorously, is correlated with high openness and high conscientiousness (Cacioppo & Petty, 1982; Sadowski & Cogburn, 1997)

6 Detecting Openness Open individual express themselves in a variety of ways and observers are fairly good at picking up on these indicators of openness they are verbally fluent, humorous, and expressive in interpersonal interaction (Sneed, McCrae & Funder, 1998) They use fewer third-person pronouns and past-tense verbs and spend more time in restaurants, bars and coffee shops (Mehl, Gosling, Pennebaker, 2006) On their personal webpages, open people highlight their own creative and work projects and express their emotions (Marcus, Machilek & Schütz, 2006) However some lay perceptions of openness can be inaccurate (Marcus et al 2006) Individuals who use big words in speech are seen as being open. Individuals who post many pictures on their websites and reveal personal information are also perceived as being open.

7 Relationships When looking for a partner people prefer someone who is similar to them on openness, with agreeableness and extraversion being a distant second and third (Figueredo, Sefcek, & Jones, 2006) The same pattern follows for dating couples and newly weds, although a match on conscientiousness becomes more important at the stage of marriage (Botwin, Buss & Shackelford, 1997) McCrae and colleagues measured trait similarity using self-reports and spouse ratings across 4 cultures, similarity correlations for the five factors were modest, with openness being the largest Openness to values was the highest correlation across cultures. McCrae states that: “liberals seek out other liberals, whereas conservatives seek out other conservatives” This trait similarity seems to come from initial choice rather than couples becoming more similar over time.

8 Relationship Quality Overall similarity in openness does not necessarily mean relationship satisfaction However, the individual openness of husbands and wives has an effect on relationship satisfaction Husbands level of openness is related to satisfying relationships overall (Botwin et al, 1997; Neyer & Voigt, 2004) Wives level of openness is not related to marital adjustment but is related to the couple’s sexual satisfaction (Donnellan, Conger & Bryant, 2004) People higher in openness are also more able to resolve conflict more effectively; they are more tolerant and able to express themselves more effectively, closed individuals tend to have less satisfying relationships People high in openness also tend to use problem-focused coping when faced with difficulties (Bouchard, 2003)

9 Friendships Open and closed people tend to have different interests, values, beliefs and political orientations. McCrae & Sutin suggest these thing may have an effect on friendships because: People often meet friends when enjoying shared interests Differences in religion and politics are often the source of great conflict, so do not make a good basis for friendship Openness is the highest correlated factor amongst friends at .35 (Berry, Willingham & Thayer, 2000) “open people are bored by the predictable and intellectually undemanding amusements of closed people; closed people are bored by what they perceive to be the difficult and pretentious culture of the open” (McCrae, 1996)

10 Cultural Differences Using self-report data NEO-PI-R data from 36 cultures and observer-rated NEO-PI-R data from 51 cultures, aggregate personality scores were calculated for each culture (McCrae, 2002; McCrae & Terraciano, 2005). Differences between cultures were generally small. The highest mean Openness scores were French-speaking Switzerland, Serbia, Austria, Germany and German-speaking Switzerland. The lowest mean Openness scores were Croatia, Spain, Hong Kong, Malaysia and India

11 Divergent thinking, creativity and personality

12 Convergent versus divergent thinking
Convergent thinking: ability to give the correct answer (arithmetic, IQ, Trivial Pursuit) Divergent thinking: ability to generate creative ideas (free-writing, brain storming, art)

13 Divergent thinking and creativity
Divergent thinking = creativity? Measuring divergent thinking: a quick example (get ready with pen and paper!)

14 Measuring Divergent Thinking
Think of as many words as you can which have the same or a similar meaning to the word… “strong”

15 Strong Examples of possible answers: ardent, clear, cogent, decided, distinct, drastic, durable, energetic, firm, forceful, healthy, hearty, intense, lusty, marked, passionate, persuasive, potent, powerful, pronounced, rank, robust, severely, sound, stalwart, stout, sturdy, tenacious, tough, vehement, vigorous, zealous How many words did you generate?

16 Creativity, Divergent Thinking and Openness to Experience, McCrae (1987)
268 male volunteers longitudinal study (1959 – 1985) Six measures of divergent thinking Measures of the 5 factor model Creative Personality Scale Other personality measures (psychoticism and vocational interests)

17 Results O positively related to all measures of divergent thinking (except Obvious Consequences) E, A, C and N didn’t show consistent relationships with divergent thinking When controlling for Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale Vocabulary, age and years of education, O was still significantly associated with total divergent thinking scores (r = .18, N = 234, p < .01) All facets of O correlated with divergent thinking Creativity Personality Scale scores were modestly related to divergent thinking (and significantly positively related to O) Artistic, investigative and (less so) social interest significantly related to divergent thinking and O

18 3,000 adult managers attending an assessment centre
Personality and ability predictors of the “Consequences” Test of divergent thinking in a large non-student sample, Furnham et al (2009). 3,000 adult managers attending an assessment centre 3 personality trait inventories (NEO-Pl, Myers Briggs, HDS) 2 ability tests (GMA, WG) Consequence Test (“What would be the consequences if none of us needed food any more to live?”)

19 Results Big 5 accounted for 10% of the variance in divergent thinking
O, E and – N correlated with divergent thinking O facets: Fantasy, Feelings, Actions, Ideas and Values were predictive of divergent thinking; Aesthetics was a negative predictor E, O and intelligence (WG test) the 3 most powerful predictors of divergent thinking

20 Results “The results are congruent with a larger body of previous evidence, derived from separate investigations, suggesting that higher DT is partly a reflection of higher Extraversion, higher Imagination/Openness and lower Diligence (Conscientiousness), as well as higher cognitive ability. In this sense we know the profile of cognitive thinkers.”

21 Questions Do people high in O enjoy divergent thinking tasks more? (McCrae) Do they acquire more practice in their life? (McCrae) Might divergent thinking promote O? (McCrae) Could we design better tests to measure creativity and would we then still find the association with O (and maybe E)?

22 Limitations of studies concerned about personality and creativity
Creativity measured by divergent thinking task alone → emphasis on one dimension of creativity. Not account for the different sub-processes Wallas (1970) 4 stages preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification; convergent and divergent thought (Davis, (1992); Sternberg (1999)). Dacey (1989) Importance of the verification stage. Selection of particular individual difference variables (risk-taking, self-confidence, and tolerance of ambiguity (Amabile, 1983; Barron & Harrington, 1981; Batey & Furnham, 2006; Parnes, 1992)) → independent correlations instead of a general picture of personality differences in creativity. Moreover few studies used FFM. Low variability in creative ability/performance among the sample

23 Wolfradt, U. & Pretz, J. E. (2001). Individual Differences in Creativity:Personality, Story Writing, and Hobbies. 3 measures of creativity: - Creative Personality Scale (CPS, Gough, 1979) → Self report - Story writing → Product - List of hobbies → engagement in “creative” activities 4 Personality/cognitive style measures - NEO-FFI (Costa & McCrae, 1989). Faith in Intuition‘ subscale of the Rational Experiential Inventory (REI) (Epstein et al.,1996). - Scale of Depersonalization Experiences (SDPE) (Wolfradt). - Scale of Interpersonal Intolerance of Ambiguity (SIA) (Wolfradt & Rademacher, 1999). - Problem-Solving Scale, (Cassidy & Long,1996).

24 Results and discussion
Openness was related to all measures of creativity. Extraversion was positively correlated to creativity especially when measured by CPS. → McCrae proposes: O as a catalyst for creative abilities across domains. O accounts for creative scientists and artists (Feist, 1998)  O as a cognitive ability ??

25 There are many conceptual approaches to the study of Creativity
Sternberg (1999): e.g.: psychodynamic, psychometric, cognitive, social-personality, confluence… What is the relationship between personality traits and cognitive processes involved in Creativity? (E.g.: Openness to Experience, Tolerance for Ambiguity conceived as personality traits or cognitive processes) Illustrating cognitive models: Mednick’s (1962) Associative theory of the creative process: One crucial component of the creative process is the ability to establish new associations. Many different creativity test appeal to the ability to associate semantic information efficiently and flexibly (Gianotti et al. (2001). Authors used semantically related/unrelated word pairs to test associative processing (bridging the associative gap meaningfully). Vs: Simon’s (2001) thinking is creative when the product is both novel and valuable. Not consider the “meaningless fantasy” and the “word salad” associated with schizophrenia.

26 Reference/further reading
Barron, F., & Harrington, D. M. (1981). Creativity, intelligence, and personality. Annual Review of Psychology, 32, Gianotti et al.(2001). Associative processing and paranormal belief. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 55, 595–603. Mednick SA. The associative basis of the creative process. Psychol. Rev. 1962; 69: 220–232. Urban, K. K. (2003). Toward a Componential Model of Creativity. In D. Ambrose, L. M. Cohen, & A.J. Tannenbaum (Eds.). Creative Intelligence: Toward Theoretic Integration. Hampton Press Inc:Cresskill, NJ. Wolfradt, U., & Pretz, J. E. (2001). Individual differences in creativity: Personality, story writing, and hobbies. European Journal of Personality, 15(4),

27 a universal marker of Openness to Experience
AESTHETIC CHILLS a universal marker of Openness to Experience Robert McCrae (2007)


29 “Aesthetic chills are transient emotional responses to music or other experiences of beauty” - .McCrae Aesthetic chills have been described as “tingles”, “slight shudders”, “shivers down the spine”, “goose-bumps”, “ecstatic”, “a feeling where you could either laugh or cry or both at once”, “exhilaration”. “brain tickling...similar to orgasm but not sexually or genetically located” (my girlfriend, referring to the effect on her of music by Leonard Cohen). Usually begins in the neck or upper back, and sometimes spread to the rest of the body. Often accompanied by piloerection (hair standing on end) - typically experienced through the medium of music...and other art forms such as painting, poetry and theatrical performance. Can also be induced by such stimuli from scenes in a movie to intellectual (including physics and maths) insights to physical exercise

30 Such persons as diverse as Darwin and Hitler have reported experiencing “goosebumps” as a consequence to hearing certain music.

31 “I acquired a strong taste for music, and used very often to time my walks so as to hear on weekdays the anthem in King’s College Chapel. This gave me intense pleasure, so that my backbone would sometimes shiver.” - Darwin (1887)

32 “At the age of twelve, I saw. the first opera of my life, Lohengrin
“At the age of twelve, I saw ... the first opera of my life, Lohengrin. In one instant I was addicted.” Hitler (1924) Mein Kampf

33 My first memory of experiencing “Aesthetic chills” was at the age of 10 or 11 at a public performance of the ballet “Swan Lake”. It more than took me by surprise. The sensation terrified me. I didn’t know what was happening to me...and yet I felt joy and pleasure while making me cry at the same time.

34 I experienced a similar nerve-tingling sensation when
I first heard Carl Orff's “Carmina Burana” in the movie “Excalibur”

35 It has been suggested that unorthodox transition points or crescendos in music Sloboda (1991), and novel, startling or unexpected juxtapositions in a work of visual art and poetry are typical conditions for inducing the Aesthetic Chills or ecstatic shudders / shivers - Silvio (2005). If there are specific conditions or “tricks” for provoking such responses then it is possible that skilled composers such as Mozart, painters such as Dali and demogogic orators like Hitler were aware of them and were able to employ them to great and sometimes devastating effect.


37 Inbar (2006) asks the question “Is a person who is ‘open’ to the environment...more susceptible to chills than someone who is ‘closed’ ?” McCrae thinks so. He argues that “...the experience of chills in response to aesthetic stimulation is a universal... uniquely related to Openness to Experience.” According to his study, in American samples, Item 188 (NEO-PI-R) - “Sometimes when I am reading poetry or looking at a work of art, I feel a chill or wave of excitement,” is one of the best indicators of total Openness, correlating .59 with the remaining 47 Openness items, and found to be the second best Openness item. McCrae adds - “Aesthetic chills are particularly relevant to two facets of Openness, Aesthetics and Feelings. Individuals who generally score high in Openness tend to be particularly sensitive to art and beauty, and they experience a wide range of feelings and emotions.” However, it should be noted that by excluding music from Item 188, opportunities may be lost for it to correlate highly with other factors, especially as most research on “Aesthetic Chills” focuses on the experience of music – Goldstein, (1980, Sloboda (1991), Panksepp (1995), Blood & Zatorre. (2001), Panksepp & Bernatzky (2002), Inbar, (2006)


39 McCrae in his Cross-cultural comparison (51 cultures), asks do Aesthetic Chills as a major indicator of high Openness score, find its correlates in other cultures ranging from European to Africa and Asia? Translated into over 40 languages, Item 188 correlated .55 with total Openness in 50 of 51 cultures. It was also the best or second best item in 32 cultures, including not only most Western cultures, but also Brazil, Hong Kong, Japan, Lebanon, and Malaysia. With an item/total correlation of .52, it is the best indicator of Openness in the combined sample. The Aesthetic chill question did not work well in African cultures, such as Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Uganda and Nigeria with low (or negative) correlations, ranging from .16 to .36, with ranks from 3rd to 26th. However, this is highly unlikely to indicate that Africans are insensitive to aesthetic experience, given the long history of African art, music and dance (after all much of popular Western music and dance has its roots in African-American culture).

40 McCrae suggests the most likely explanation - poor data quality and inadequate understanding of items relating to Openness (the African participants did not complete the questionnaire in their native language, leaving the NEO-PI-R instrument uncompleted) Given these shortcomings is McCrae being premature in claiming “Aesthetic Chills” to be a universal marker of Openness to Experience?


42 Goldstein (1980) had previously argued from his survey of American subjects that half the population have experienced such aesthetic reactions, which suggests the experience is much more widespread and not just confined to those people with high Openness. The subjective experience seem to have measurable physiological correlates and characteristic brain activation patterns. - Blood, A. J., & Zatorre, R. J. (2001), Panksepp, J., & Bernatzky, G. (2002). Both Goldstein and Panksepp ask about the evolutionary origins of this apparent “aesthetic chills” response. Was there a survival function for this reaction? Panksepp (1995) in his research, found chills were primarily induced by sad rather than happy music, particularly in females, suggesting an evolutionary origin whereby the separation call offspring in many species make when separated from their mother. induces a strong emotional maternal response, that may manifest as a chill. From this, he predicted that “people who exhibit the most chills will tend to be individuals of high emotional responsivity and sensitivity and have highly nurturant and socially agreeable personalities. In subsequent analyses of ‘Big 5’ personality dimensions, Panksepp found “chills” correlated “only with ‘agreeableness’, suggesting that the phenomenon is related to pro-social, nurturant dynamics of individual emotional patterns” (Panksepp & Bernatzky, 2002).


44 McCrae disputes this finding by citing larger samples showing
McCrae disputes this finding by citing larger samples showing .08 Agreeableness compared with .55 Openness McCrae does not consider the association of aesthetic chills with Openness to be surprising, given that highly Open individuals tend to score high on art appreciation and practice BUT more research is needed to discover why art has the power to induce intense physical responses such as sudden shivers. If the aesthetic chills response does have “its evolutionary origins in the separation call, it has since become associated with an entirely different personality system, as humans diverged from their primate origins..” - McCrae

45 McCrae recommends both a replication of his cross-cultural survey, focusing on music, and cross-cultural laboratory studies of chills in music (glaringly omitted from his Item 188) as they might identify universal features of music (such as tending to occur at transitional points, giving rise to appraisals of novelty–complexity, Silvia, 2005) that are most likely to induce the response. He also suggests neuroscience, possibly applying neuroimaging techniques, investigate physiological correlates, contrasting, for example, aesthetic chills with those induced by the awesome or uncanny. McCrae concludes by suggesting that states such as awe, fascination, and mystic ecstasy may be particularly related to Openness, and that such emotions are therefore worthy of research attention.


47 And finally...... A Shameless plug for my book “DREAMS MY FATHER SOLD ME”

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