Is Curiosity and the Love of Learning linked to Creativity and Innovation?

The short answer is yes; research shows that the personality factor Openness to Experience is positively and consistently linked to Creativity or Creative Achievement. Curiosity and a love of learning are traits that belong to the Factor Openness to Experience.

What is Openness to Experience? Psychologist Art Markman defines Openness to Experience as “the degree to which a person is willing to consider new ideas and opportunities.” Openness to Experience is hugely relevant for today’s working world where innovation, constant learning, being curious about your competitors and new trends in the outside world are important for staying competitive and informed.

Good leadership also requires a dash of openness, since it allows leaders to be visionary and able come up with effective solutions (Patrick Fagan).

People who are more open to experience are more likely to be creative. One of the reasons for this is that openness is about being interested in new ideas, experiences and ways of doing things. As Steve Jobs said, this is related to divergent thinking which is in turn related to how many different experiences and perspectives someone has had. In other words, the more diverse experiences and perspectives someone has, the more information they have to create new ideas and innovate.

Does learning make you happy? If you score high on personality traits such as Learning Orientation, Curiosity or Intellectual Confidence (all of which come under the Openness to Learning umbrella) then according to Scott Barry Kaufman, yes it does. At a neurological level, it has a lot to do with dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter. If you are someone who loves researching, finding out new information or something new, you are likely to get that feel good factor or happiness buzz.

People who have a high openness to experience enjoy learning new things, which means they will be more likely to get into the state of flow that just-right feeling where your skills meet your challenges when grappling with their work. When you’re flowing, you’re continually stretching your skill set, thus allowing for more and more creative achievement.

Kaufman says, but the intrinsic enjoyment value of seeking information is what activates dopamine and energizes us.

Interestingly, studies have reported a positive relationship between Openness to experience and performance on tests of intelligence (Ackerman & Heggestad, 1997; Gignac, Stough, & Loukomitis, 2004).

What does this mean for the everyday person in the workplace? If you want to develop your creativity; intellect and happiness at work; keep learning, being curious and asking your peers, professional networks and team members relevant questions.



Referenced from Drake Baer’s ‘Why Openness to Experience is the Key to Creativity’

Business Insider Australia, From critical thinking to creativity and more, On Openness to Experience and the Maintenance of Intellectual Abilities

Published on November 10, 2012 by Michael Hogan, Ph.D in In One Lifespan