Cantankerous Contrariety: The trait of Agreeableness amongst visual artists

Cantankerous Contrarity: The trait of Agreeableness amongst visual artists

Psychometric and historiometric studies on personality suggest a link between low Agreeableness and significant creative achievement, when creativity is considered a bend or breach of a domain norm in a manner that is “original, useful, and surprising” and subsequently absorbed by that domain, modifying later understandings or practices (Simonton, 2016). Deviating from a set of norms, challenging convention, resisting social demands, possibly requires and oft earns the creative the label of arrogant and disagreeable. Yet connections between creativity and low Agreeableness have also been shown to be suspect. Some recent studies based on college student samplings and self-assessment surveys report a near zero relationship between Agreeableness and creativity. Yet this seems to conflict with real world samplings of creative achievers.To counter limitations inherent in student sampling and self-assessment, psychologist Paul Silvia proposed that future investigations would benefit from employing alternative samplings and methods.

This poster presents a study focusing on the personality trait of Agreeableness within two sets of visual artist populations, the eminent, Big-C (137), and the professional visual artists, pro-c (63), through computational psycholinguistic analysis. Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC2015) app was used on artists’ pre-existing feral writing samples (1,475) the app output was then imported into R Studio for statistical analysis.

And on a sidenote: If eminent creative achievement is linked with and even facilitated by dispositional trait of low Agreeableness, how might we rethink our interaction as faculty with the resistant student in our studio classes? Does it serve the community to tame the cantankerous? Though this paper does not address these questions, it does explore real world artists’ relationship with disagreeableness.

*[KWIC] The titling quote was retrieved from the corpus of artists’ writings during an automated Key Word in Context processing that allows for qualitative (human) review amidst the quantitative. The use of socially taboo terminology in writing is linked with trait level low Agreeableness.


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