Characteristics of highly creative individuals

“Creative thinking involves imagining familiar things in a new light, digging below the surface to find previously undetected patterns, and finding connections among unrelated phenomena.”       Roger von Oech, Expect the unexpected

Look at the following characteristics and think about yourself or other people who you perceive as creative. As you go through each description, see if you can calculate a rating for each description into the categories: most of the time; sometimes; infrequently. This exercise may help you decide if you or others fall into a group that is considered highly creative. Obviously, the more times you rate “most of the time,” the more likelihood that person can be classified as highly creative.

Highly creative individuals may:

  • 1. Display a great deal of curiosity about many things; are constantly asking questions about anything and everything; may have broad interests in many unrelated areas. May devise collections based on unusual things and interests.
  • 2. Generate a large number of ideas or solutions to problems and questions; often offer unusual (“way out”), unique, clever responses.
  • 3. Are often uninhibited in expressions of opinion; are sometimes radical and spirited in disagreement; are unusually tenacious or persistent — fixating on an idea or project.
  • 4. Are willing to take risks, are often people who are described as a “high risk taker, or adventurous, or speculative.”
  • 5. Display a good deal of intellectual playfulness; may frequently be caught fantasizing, daydreaming or imagining. Often wonder out loud and might be heard saying, “I wonder what would happen if. . .”; or “What if we change . . ..” Can manipulate ideas by easily changing, elaborating, adapting, improving, or modifying the original idea or the ideas of others. Are often concerned improving the conceptual frameworks of institutions, objects, and systems.
  • 6. Display keen senses of humor and see humor in situations that may not appear to be humorous to others. Sometimes their humor may appear bizarre, inappropriate, irreverent to others.
  • 7. Are unusually aware of his or her impulses and are often more open to the irrational within him or herself. May freely display opposite gender characteristics (freer expression of feminine interests in boys, greater than usual amount of independence for girls).
  • 8. Exhibit heightened emotional sensitivity. May  be very sensitive to beauty, and visibly moved by aesthetic experiences.
  • 9. Are frequently perceived as nonconforming; accept disordered of chaotic environments or situations; are frequently not interested in details, are described as individualistic; or do not fear being classified as “different.”
  • 10. Criticize constructively, and are unwilling to accept authoritarian pronouncements without overly critical self-examination.

Adopted and adapted from the scale for Rating Behavioral Characteristics of Superior Students by Renzulli and Hartman


A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something.”

Frank Capra (film director)

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