Thursday, April 1, 2010

Science Suggests Liberals Are More Creative — Like Science Was Necessary!

Posted by Will Moredock on Thu, Apr 1, 2010 at 12:12 PM

Are liberals more creative than conservatives? That's what the science says and few serious people would probably disagree. Here is an excerpt from the Psychology Today story that a friend emailed me. The whole story is at
www.psychologytoday.com/blog/beautiful-minds/200811/are-conservatives-less-creative-liberals-0


Psychologist Stephen J. Dollinger assessed the creative behaviors and products of 426 undergraduates. For behavior, he assessed engagement in various creative activities, spanning the domains of visual arts, literary arts, performance, and crafts.

For creativity, he had participants complete an incomplete figure in any way they liked. The figures had already been started by an artist. Each drawing was then rated by three MFA graduate students on the quality of the details as well as the overall creative impression.

He also had participants take photos, and write essays on how each photo represented themselves. These photos were judged by psychologists for the degree of individuality inherent in the essays. Interestingly, prior research has shown these ratings predict performance on other creativity measures as much as seven years later!

For both creativity tasks, the judges agreed highly with each other on the creativity of the products.

Dollinger also administered measures of vocabulary and openness to experience, since each of these have shown linkages to creativity in prior studies. A sample openness item is "likes to reflect, play with ideas."

Finally, and most importantly, Dollinger also assessed whether the students favored, opposed, or held a neutral view on the following issues:

Death penalty, Multiculturalism, Stiffer jail terms, Voluntary euthanasia, Bible truth, Gay rights, Pre-marital virginity, Immigration of foreigners, Church authority, Legalized abortion, Condom vending machines, Legalized prostitution

He found that compared to liberals, those endorsing more conservative positions had fewer creative accomplishments, and produced photo essays and drawings that were judged as less creative (although statistically significant, note that the effect sizes weren't huge). Even taking into account the vocabulary and openness to experience of each participant, the results for drawing products and creative behaviors still held up. Interestingly, he also found that those who were more conservative did worse on the vocabulary test and were less open to experien

ce.

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