Creative people aren't just different because of the surprising and valuable work they produce. Nor is exceptional creativity all a matter of personality. The differences between the creatively gifted and the rest of us apparently go even deeper, according to mind-blowing recent research.
In fact, creative people actually see the world differently, according to a fascinating recent post on The Conversation by two Australian psychologists.
The world looks different if you're highly creative.
What exactly do I mean by see the world differently? In one intriguing study explained by authors Luke Smillie and Anna Antinori, researchers presented each eye of a volunteer with a different image. The right eye might see a red patch, for instance, and the left a green one. How did participants' brains handle this contradictory visual information? The answer depended on the subject's level of creativity.
The brains of the averagely gifted alternated between the two images, sometimes deciding that the world must be red and other times that it must be green. "For the observer, the images seem to flip intermittently from one to the other," explain the psychologists.
But the results were different for those who were previously shown to possess exceptional creativity by standard psychological tests. Instead of seeing alternating images, these more creative types were able to handle contradiction and confusion better--their brains showed them a mixture of the two images.
What does that mean? Your friendly neighborhood creative genius literally doesn't see the world the same way you do. "Our findings suggest that the creative tendencies of open [i.e. creative] people extend all the way down to basic visual perception. Open people may have fundamentally different visual experiences to the average person," conclude Smillie and Antinori.
Is your world full of gorillas?
That's not the only difference between the vision of the highly creative that science has uncovered, however. Have you seen the video below? If not, take a moment to watch it.
Notice anything strange going on? If you're shaking your head perplexed, chances are good that you're less than exceptionally open to new experiences, a trait tightly linked with creativity.
If you're bewildered about how anyone could have missed the guy in the gorilla suit marching through the frame, then congrats. You might be more open and creative than the average bear. "Your susceptibility to inattentional blindness [your inability to see the gorilla when you're focusing on the balls] depends on your personality: open people are more likely to see the gorilla in the video clip," explain the psychologists.
These differences between the highly open and those of average creativity are interconnected, Smillie and Antinori believe. "It seems that more visual information breaks through into conscious perception for people high in openness--they see the things that others screen out," they write, summing up this intriguing line of research.