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Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts - Vol 11, Iss 4

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Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts is devoted to promoting scholarship on how individuals participate in the creation and appreciation of artistic endeavor.
Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association
  • Introduction by the editors.
    This editorial announces that Oshin Vartanian and Thalia Goldstein will be the new Editors of Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts (PACA). Zorana Ivcevic Pringle has joined the team as a new Associate Editor. The editorial then provides an overview of the articles in this issue. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The role of passion and persistence in creativity.
    We examined the predictive power of 2 different conceptualizations of passion and persistence in relation to creative behavior. Specifically, we examined predictive power of the self-reported grit subscales (defined as a combination of passion/consistency of interests and perseverance) and teacher-reported passion and persistence (based on lay definitions of these constructs). In 3 studies of college and high school students, self-reported passion/consistency of interests and perseverance (grit subscales) did not predict creative behavior and achievement. Openness to Experience (Studies 1–3) and teacher nominations of passion and persistence predicted creativity (Study 3). Finally, we found support that teacher-nominated passion and persistence remained significant predictors of creativity above the Big Five personality traits. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Revered today, loved tomorrow: Expert creativity ratings predict popularity of architects’ works 50 years later.
    Beginning in the 1950s, the Institute of Personality Assessment and Research (IPAR) began a program of research to study the psychology of effectively functioning persons. Among the most influential series of studies conducted by IPAR were the assessments of highly creative architects in 1957–1961, a sample that included some of the most eminent architects of the 20th century such as Eero Saarinen, Louis I. Kahn, I. M. Pei, and Philip C. Johnson. In turn, in 2006–2007, the American Institute of Architects conducted a survey to identify America’s favorite architecture, first among its 2,448 members and subsequently among 2,214 members of the general public. Creativity ratings of the architects (N = 40) by (a) journal editorial board members, (b) expert judges, and (c) the architects themselves collected in 1957–1961 predicted the popularity of their works 50 years later. Our results suggest that in the domain of architecture, expert assessments of individual-level creativity predict future product-level popularity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Viewing through one prism or two? Discriminant validity of implicit theories of intelligence and creativity.
    Five possible relationships between creativity and intelligence have been proposed, with empirical support for each relationship. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between these constructs with a Korean sample. Previous research with Asian samples provides evidence of more overlap between creativity and intelligence implicit theories than has generally been found with U.S. samples. In the first study, 200 Korean college students rated the creativity and intelligence of 74 behaviors that were identified in previous research as representing Koreans’ implicit theories of these constructs. In the second study, 194 students evaluated the creativity and intelligence of 88 hypothetical profiles constructed with behavioral descriptions related to either creativity (44 profiles) or intelligence (44 profiles). Results provide evidence that the overlap between implicit theories of intelligence and creativity is due to the predominance of problem-solving in each set of theories. Results also suggest that the relationship between creativity and intelligence may be represented by more than 1 of the 5 hypothesized relationships, depending on the context in which the theories are applied. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The social benefits of balancing creativity and imitation: Evidence from an agent-based model.
    Although creativity is encouraged in the abstract it is often discouraged in educational and workplace settings. Using an agent-based model of cultural evolution, we investigated the idea that tempering the novelty-generating effects of creativity with the novelty-preserving effects of imitation is beneficial for society. In Experiment One we systematically introduced individual differences in creativity, and observed a trade-off between the ratio of creators to imitators and how creative the creators were. Excess creativity was detrimental because creators invested in unproven ideas at the expense of propagating proven ones. Experiment Two tested the hypothesis that society as a whole benefits if individuals adjust how creative they are in accordance with their creative success. When effective creators created more, and ineffective creators created less (social regulation), the agents segregated into creators and imitators, and the mean fitness of outputs was temporarily higher. We hypothesized that the temporary nature of the effect was attributable to a ceiling on output fitness. In Experiment Three we made the space of possible outputs open-ended by giving agents the capacity to chain simple outputs into arbitrarily complex ones such that fitter outputs were always possible. With the capacity for chained outputs, the effect of social regulation could indeed be maintained indefinitely. The results are discussed in light of empirical data. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • All you need to do is ask? The exhortation to be creative improves creative performance more for nonexpert than expert jazz musicians.
    Current creativity research reveals a fundamental disagreement about the nature of creative thought, specifically, whether it is primarily based on automatic, associative (Type 1) or executive, controlled (Type 2) cognitive processes. We propose that Type 1 and Type 2 processes make differential contributions to creative production depending on domain expertise and situational factors such as task instructions. We tested this hypothesis with jazz pianists who were instructed to improvise to a novel chord sequence and rhythm accompaniment. Afterward, they were asked to perform again under instructions to be especially creative which, via goal activation, is thought to prompt the musicians to engage Type 2 processes. Jazz experts rated all performances. Overall, performances by more experienced pianists were rated as superior. Moreover, creativity instructions resulted in higher ratings. However, there was an interaction between instructions and expertise, revealing that explicit creativity instructions significantly improved improvisation ratings only for the less experienced musicians. We propose that activating or reconfiguring executive Type 2 processes facilitates creativity for less experienced musicians, but does not improve creative performance significantly for more experienced ones because the latter have largely automatized the processes responsible for high-level improvisation or because they have achieved a near-optimal balance between associative Type 1 and executive Type 2 processes. Thus, increasing controlled Type 2 processing is unlikely to help, and may sometimes even diminish, the creativity of experts’ performances. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Ethical saliency: Deterring deviance in creative individuals.
    Although creativity is commonly thought to be a universally beneficial outcome, a relationship has been found between creativity and deviance. Certain cognitive processes, such as flexible thinking, have been proposed as the connection between creativity and deviance, as creative people often possess the ability to think “outside of the box” and view situations differently than those who are less creative. Despite creative people having flexible thinking, however, not all engage in deviance. We explore possible situational factors that may predict deviance in creative people and test a contextual manipulation aimed at deterring deviance. In agreement with expectations, results show that ambiguous ethical situations, where rules are unclear, provide more of an opportunity for creative people to engage in deviance. In ethically salient conditions, where rules are reinforced, deviance is reduced. Counter to predictions, however, creativity seems to be unaffected or even slightly enhanced by ethically salient conditions. By creating an ethically salient environment, it may be possible to deter deviance while still allowing for creative expression. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Mentoring functions: Interpersonal tensions are associated with mentees’ creative achievement.
    There are different functions a mentor can perform for a mentee. The literature on mentoring creativity reveals many proposed functions for mentees’ creativity, like advancing relevant skills, role modeling, and career-related and psychosocial support. However, only qualitative studies have actually investigated how different functions each contribute specifically to mentees’ creativity. Accordingly, research has broadly discussed “mentoring works,” but no quantitative study has looked further into mentoring functions for the field of creativity. We investigated the association between these functions and creativity in an online study with 161 participants, including artists, writers, and scientists, using existing items from 2 mentoring scales. Additionally, we measured ability to be autonomously creative with a Self-Developed Scale. We first performed a factor analysis on mentoring items. Several distinguishable functions emerged: advancing domain-relevant skills, role modeling, interpersonal tensions, and career-related and psychosocial support. Creative autonomy was related to psychosocial support. Second, we investigated whether different mentoring functions are associated with everyday creativity and creative achievement, that is, checked for concurrent validity of interpretation. Surprisingly, functions proposed in the mentoring literature could not predict creative outcomes, but interpersonal tensions did for creative achievement. We hypothesize the results could be explained by a demanding achievement orientation of mentors or by arguing about ideas in nonhierarchical relationships. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Beauty for the eye of the beholder: Plane pattern perception and production.
    Visual patterns are a key phenomenon in human aesthetics, reflecting a human “sense of order” (Gombrich, 1984). Social effects on the producer of visual aesthetic output may shed light on intuitive aesthetic knowledge that laypeople can utilize without explicit instructions, with implications for the evolution of aesthetics in humans more generally. We apply all 3 methods suggested by Gustav Fechner (preference, production, and use; Fechner 1871, 1876) to visual geometrical patterns, showing that symmetrical patterns are not only used most frequently in real life but are also produced spontaneously in the lab and are rated as significantly more attractive than are random patterns. We demonstrate that an anticipated audience affects the pleasingness of geometrical patterns produced by participants in the laboratory. Visual patterns created by participants instructed to make patterns that others will like are indeed rated more highly than are those that were made under the instruction to make patterns that are mainly pleasing to the producer. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Mapping the conceptual domain of aesthetic emotion terms: A pile-sort study.
    Aesthetic evaluations are often couched in terms of emotional impact; for example, an artwork may be deemed fascinating, moving, or surprising. Such emotional responses have been called “aesthetic emotions.” Given the broad variety of terms used to conceptualize emotional reactions to art and to other elicitors of aesthetic responses, the authors performed an exploratory study aimed at mapping the conceptual domain of such terms by using a pile-sort task. Seventy-five items designating emotional reactions during aesthetic experiences were derived from the literature. Sixty students of the arts and related disciplines sorted the items into piles as determined by judged similarity. The authors used cluster and network analyses to draw up a highly granular conceptual map of the selected emotion terms. This map offers new information on the categorization and strength of associations between emotion terms that helps inform future conceptualizations and measures of specific aesthetic emotions. The analyses further revealed that complex and mixed emotional experiences of captivation, enchantment, and cognitive engagement are differentiated from emotions with purely negative or positive valence early on. The former emotions, which are regarded as typical of aesthetic experience, were found to lie at the heart of the conceptual domain of aesthetic emotion terms. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Different stories: How levels of familiarity with literary and genre fiction relate to mentalizing.
    Our ability to infer and understand others’ thoughts and feelings, known as theory of mind (ToM), has important consequences across the life span, supporting empathy, pro-social behavior, and coordination in groups. Socialization practices and interpersonal interactions help develop this capacity, and so does engaging with fiction. Research suggests that lifetime exposure to fiction predicts performance on ToM tests, but little evidence speaks to the type of fiction most responsible for this effect. We draw from literary theory and empirical work to propose that literary fiction is more likely than genre fiction to foster ToM, describe the development of a new method for assessing exposure to literary and popular genre fiction, and report findings from 3 samples testing the specificity of the relation between exposure to literary fiction and ToM. Results indicate that exposure to literary but not genre fiction positively predicts performance on a test of ToM, even when accounting for demographic variables including age, gender, educational attainment, undergraduate major (in 2 samples), and self-reported empathy (in 1 sample). These findings offer further evidence that habitual engagement with others’ minds, even fictional ones, may improve the psychological processes supporting intersubjectivity. We discuss their implications for understanding the impacts of fiction, and for models of culture more generally. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Creating fictional characters: The role of experience, personality, and social processes.
    Characters are considered central to works of fiction and essential to our enjoyment of them. We conducted an exploratory study to examine whether the ability to sketch engaging fictional characters is influenced by a writer’s attributes. Samples of 93 creative writers and 114 nonwriters generated character descriptions based on a portrait photograph. We measured participants’ experiences with reading and writing in various genres, their trait personality, their self-reported perspective-taking tendencies, and cognitive accessibility of social information. Next, 144 raters read these sketches and assessed the characters for interest, likability, and complexity. Characters produced by creative writers were rated as more interesting and complex, though not more likable, than were those produced by nonwriters. Participants who wrote more fiction and poetry and read more poetry, and those who scored high on Openness to Experience, sketched characters that were more interesting and complex. Moreover, Openness mediated the relationships between fiction-writing and poetry-reading and how Interesting characters were. Participants with higher levels of perspective-taking produced characters that were more complex, however, those for whom social information was cognitively more accessible tended to create characters who were less likable. These findings suggest that there is a measurable influence of individual differences on the ability to develop compelling fictional characters during creative writing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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