Author: Douglass J. Wilde, Professor
Emeritus of Mechanical and Chemical Engineering, Stanford University, David B.
Labno, Program Chair, Institute for Creativity and Innovation, University of
St. Thomas, St. Paul (2001-03-02);
recommended: Yeh-Liang Hsu (2001-06-11).
Note: This is the course material for “ME441 Mechanical Design Practice,”
Yuan Ze University. This material is be used strictly for teaching and learning
of this course.
Personality and the Creative
C. G. Jung postulated the creative impulse as a compulsive instinct similar to
the animal instincts hunger, sex, aggression and flight from danger. Jungian
philosopher James Hillman later considered interactions of this creative
impulse, which originates outside the psyche, with various psychic components
and archetypes, obtaining six plausible and very different notions of
creativity. Here we consider interaction of the creative impulse with the
conscious ego, the domain of Jung’s theory of personality types, and then with
each of the eight cognitive modes of Jung. This generates eight modes of
creativity, of which, according to Jungian theory, about two would be favored
by any given person. There are implications for both existing creativity theory
and the construction of problem-solving teams.
Creativity is an impulse originating outside the psyche like the
instincts hunger, sex, fear and flight, according
to Jung. But unlike the instincts, creativity is spontaneous rather than
automatic. “Like instinct, (creativity) is compulsive, but it is not common,
and it is not a fixed and invariably inherited organization” he said.
archetypal psychologist James Hillman, himself a follower of Jung, notes that creativity takes many forms
(p. 29), more than a hundred according to Taylor.
Some of these forms are perhaps difficult to accept as being in any way
creative. Hillman explains this potential paradox by emphasizing Jung’s point
that the creative impulse originates outside the psyche. Before this impulse becomes manifest in behavior, it must
interact with an individual psyche. Different
psyches would therefore be expected to produce the varied forms of creativity
noted by Taylor and other creativity researchers.
There remain two
important questions. What
element of “creativity”, being common to all these different forms,
characterizes the original creative impulse? And how can the various forms of creativity be classified and
related in a compact structure?
Jung himself did
not define in detail what he meant by “creativity”, although he did caution
against confusing it with artistic talent. Hillman said (p. 45), “The creative is perceived by the ego as inventive
problem-solving, anything instrumental to the extension or enhancement of
consciousness.” Defining Jung’s creativity in this
way as the impulse to solve problems makes it a unifying concept subsuming the
many forms of creativity observed. Henceforth Jung’s version will be known as
the “creative impulse” to distinguish it from the vaguer term “creativity”. The creative impulse may be regarded as the next higher
level of abstraction for the various forms of creativity.
question -- how to classify the various forms of creativity -- has been partly
addressed by Hillman. By having the creative impulse interact with each of six
components of the psyche, he obtains six different forms of creativity (p. 45).
His most dramatic result is the destructive form obtained by the creative
impulse’s reaction with the repressed Shadow side of the psyche. This urge to
clear away the old may seem anti-creative until it is viewed as sometimes
needed to make room for the new.
With no claim of
completeness, Hillman also examines five other psychic interactions of the
creative instinct: with the Ego, the Persona and with three Jungian archetypes
-- Father, Puer (child) and Great Mother. The present article only studies
eight forms generated by the Ego, or Personality, interaction. It takes
advantage of another of Jung’s contributions, his Personality Theory (1990).
Jung characterized the varieties of human personality in terms
of eight “cognitive modes” (Singer and Loomis,
Spoto, pp. 183-9) or “function-attitudes” (Thompson) generated as combinations
of a pair of psychological attitudes (introversion and extraversion), and two pairs of psychological functions, one pair for perceiving
information coming in (stimulus); the other, for making action decisions based on the
information obtained (response). Most individuals favor
only two modes out of the eight, the choices to a large extent determining
their personalities and associated behavior. It is of interest then to examine the interactions of the
creative impulse with each of the eight cognitive modes, for this will generate
eight forms of creativity to be known here collectively as the “creative modes”, or, in Levesque’s terminology, the “creative talents”. Individuals
may then recognize which two creative modes seem to be generated by their own
personalities. They may also learn to perceive and appreciate creative behavior
previously overlooked among friends, students and colleagues. Indeed,
significant attention has been placed on valuing and directing attention to
various types of creativity. This work
may further improve the ability to enhance group understanding and the
valuation of the various underrepresented modes in a pragmatic setting. It also may explain the superior performance of Stanford’s
engineering design teams composed by the first author according to these
At the highest
level of abstraction, Jung’s
model describes the human personality in terms of the standard
stimulus-response biological model. Viewed as an
organism, the human receives external or internal stimuli to which it responds
according to its individual character. A given personality therefore is seen as
having two parts, a
“perceptual” portion (Jung’s term was “irrational”)
taking in stimuli and a “responsive” (also called “judging”, or by Jung, “rational”) one deciding what to do given the new information. Thus half of the cognitive, and therefore creative, modes are
perceptual and the other half responsive. In Jung’s view, most people favor
exactly one perceptual and one responsive cognitive (creative) mode.
Both of these mode classes can be partitioned into two mode
pairs according to how they are used and where they get their energy. One mode pair, the “psychological
attitudes”, concerns the source of psychic energy
for the mode. Energy coming from outside the
subject’s psyche is said to be “extraverted”.
Conversely, energy originating inside the
subject’s psyche is known as “introverted”. Jung
noted that the perceptual attitude may, and usually does, differ from the
The other mode
pairs, the “psychological functions”, are based on how the mode is used. The perceptual function pair
has two diametrically opposed functions, as does the responsive pair. But the
perceptual functions are in no way opposed to the responsive functions; they
are merely different from them. There are thus four psychological functions
arranged in two opposing pairs. The two pairs of psychological attitudes and
functions produce four perceptual and four responsive modes, eight in all.
Perceptual Creative Modes.
The two perceptual functions
represent oppositely extreme ways of receiving stimulus information. One “factual” (Jung would say “sensing”) way is to pay literal attention to the perceived messages of the
five senses. The opposite “conceptual” (Jung: “intuitive”) way is to filter the sensual information through the psyche,
conscious or unconscious, to receive edited messages involving possibilities
and patterns behind the bare facts. Note that since these conceptual
interpretations are imaginary, they may or may not be correct. There are thus
two perceptive modes, one factual and the other conceptual. To obtain Jung’s
four fully differentiated perceptual modes, there must also be a
differentiation according to attitude.
the two attitudes applicable to the conceptual functions. The extraverted
perceptual attitude draws its perceptions and psychic energy from the outside
world. The extroverted conceptual
mode resulting thus involves rearranging various elements into new
configurations, a process known in chemistry, engineering and architecture as
“synthesis”. The interaction of the creative
instinct with this cognitive mode is thus called “synthesizing creativity”. The work
of Harold Gough, who correlated Myers-Briggs scores with an experimental
creativity checklist, indicates that this synthesizing creative mode is the one most identified with
“creativity” in the popular mind. But the reader
will probably agree that the introverted version of conceptual creativity is
also creative, although less detectable through casual contact because of its quieter
The introverted conceptual attitude quietly takes its
impressions and psychic energy from within, from fantasies, musings and dreams. It can see external objects as entirely transformed into legendary
or imaginary things. This “transforming
creativity” is indeed the favorite mode of many
fiction-writers, speculative inventors and futurists. Easily overlooked by
outsiders in a study like Gough’s, transforming creativity is perfectly
detectable by an individual from within, or by a questionnaire dealing with
introverted aspects of the personality. In Stanford’s Engineering Design
program conceptual creativity appears introverted in about as many students as
it is extraverted.
Now consider the
two attitudinal manifestations of factual creativity. The extraverted mode involves going out and directly
experiencing the world realistically in the here-and-now, responding quickly to
changes while fitting in easily with the actual situation. Since one gathers factual information by direct experience and experimentation,
this mode is here called “experiential
creativity”. This mode is displayed by experimental
researchers, X-gamers, improvisational actors, dancers, acrobats and test
pilots, often in spectacular and daring ways. This creative mode is very much
valued in Stanford’s Engineering Design program, but in the education setting
it appears to the authors that it is in such short supply naturally that much
instruction should be aimed at generating it in the more synthetically creative
The introverted version of factual creativity comes largely from
memories, education and past experience, supplemented with archival know-how
and knowledge from handbooks, libraries and the Internet. Since this “knowledge-based” mode is exactly opposite to the
extraverted conceptual or synthesizing creativity popularly viewed as
“creativity”, some discussion is needed to justify it as creative at all.
Consider the cynical aphorism “Good actors copy; great actors STEAL”. For
“actors” has often been substituted “architects”, “writers” or members of any
creative profession. It simply means that one need not be totally original in
creative endeavors, for something good from another source may well be worth
reusing or reshaping to solve the problem at hand. Since the creative impulse
is the drive to solve problems, there’s nothing wrong with finding at least
some elements of the best solution in a catalog, handbook, or old class notes.
The left columns
of Table 1 recapitulate these four perceptual modes of creativity in a
structure exhibiting the two-by-two partition that generated them. The right
half of the table anticipates the upcoming development of the four responsive
modes. The only new elements in the table are people’s names associated with
each mode, which will be discussed now for the perceptual modes.
represents someone widely accepted as creative who exemplifies the mode. Thus
Buckminster Fuller, the architect of the Geodesic Dome and other
counterintuitive structural advances, is a recent example of synthesizing
creativity -- extraverted conceptualizing. L. Frank Baum, the creator of “The
Wizard of Oz” and many sequels, exemplifies the fantastic imaginative magic of
transforming creativity -- introverted conceptualizing. Wilbur Wright, of the famous
brothers who first flew a powered airplane successfully, symbolizes
experiential creativity. Although only the second to fly at Kitty Hawk (he lost
the coin toss), his superior reflexes and daring enabled him to fly four times
as far as his imaginative but less practical brother Orville. Finally the
inventor Thomas Edison is made the icon of knowledge-based creativity because
of his remark about invention being 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Since
much of his knowledge was generated by his many experiments, he could join
Wilbur Wright as an exemplar of experiential creativity.
L. Frank Baum
Mohandas K. Gandhi
TABLE 1. THE EIGHT CREATIVE MODES WITH EXEMPLARS
Responsive Creative Modes.
The two responsive functions in the
two right-hand columns of Table 1 represent oppositely extreme ways of making
decisions about information once it has been perceived. One “objective” (Jung: “thinking”) way is to ponder the input information logically and
impersonally, considering all factors, screening out inconsistencies, and
noting what seems missing, using principles to distinguish correct from
incorrect. The opposite “subjective” (Jung: “feeling”) way is to consider quickly the overall situation in terms of
human factors and values in order to separate the good from the bad. There are
thus two responsive modes, one objective creativity and the other subjective
There are two
responsive attitudes: extraverted and introverted. Since the extraverted
response involves careful planning to steer through and guide anticipated
external events, it is called informally the “control” attitude. On the other
hand, the introverted response is known as the “appraisal” attitude because it
takes things as they come, forming opinions about them after they happen rather
than trying to influence them in advance.
These two pairs
of distinctions combine to produce four different modes. Extraverted objectivity entails impersonal logical
arrangement of external things, here called “organizing”, as in the Old Testament “Creation” of order out of chaos. The
chemist Mendelejev did this by organizing diverse chemical knowledge into the
Periodic Table of the Elements. The exemplar in Table 1 is Henry Ford, whose
organization of the production line revolutionized the manufacture of
automobiles and other complicated machines.
The introverted objective mode, here called “analyzing”,
involves internal reflective reasoning on relations among data and theories. French philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes’ statement,
“Cogito, ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am) makes a good motto for this
creative mode. Much scientific theory is created in this way.
Extraverted subjectivity, since it concerns control of or by
external human emotional factors, is referred to here as the “teamwork” mode. An example of this mode is the legendary football coach Knute
Rockne, who made his “Fighting Irish” team greater than the sum of its parts.
His creation? The team itself. Politicians and generals at their best also make
use of this mode.
On the other
hand, introverted subjectivity is
governed by a person’s own values -- aesthetic, ethical, moral and spiritual.
Called here the “evaluating” mode, it entails
comparing perceived information and potential actions against an internal value
system distinguishing good from bad. In leading the independence struggle of
the Indian subcontinent, the Mahatma Mohandas K. Gandhi reacted to events in
this moralistic creative mode. The civil rights reformer Martin Luther King is
another example. Since Levesque characterizes this mode as “poetic”, she would
prefer poets to politicians as examples. This completes the enumeration of the
eight creative modes associated with the ego.
eight creative modes encompass the conscious ones available to all humanity
according to Jung’s personality model. Although an individual could in
principle apply any mode to a given problem, no one would expect easy access to
all of them. In practice, most people
prefer two of the eight, one perceptual to take in information, the other
responsive to decide what to do about it. The
reader may find it instructive now to pick out two such personal favorites from
among Jung’s pair of foursomes.
this exercise one might encounter a tie -- two equally preferred modes within
one of the quartets. Suppose for example one found no clear preference between
introverted (transforming) conceptual creativity and the extraverted
(synthesizing) kind. The two modes could then be combined into an integrated
form known simply as “conceptual” creativity. Jung for instance saw his own
conceptualizing creativity as including both synthesizing and transforming, for
according to Spoto (p. 55), Jung characterized his personality as “introverted
thinking with intuition”.
The other seven
pairs of creative modes could combine similarly to generate integrated creative
forms. This proliferation of terminology is intended not so much to expand the
description of creative forms as it is to provide single appropriate terms for
use by an individual, Jung for example, who needs it for compact
self-description. Thus the attitudinally integrated perceptual creative mode
comparable to “conceptual” creativity would be “factual” creativity combining
the experiential (extraverted) with the knowledge-based (introverted) modes, Edison for example. Attitudinal integration would produce
either “objective” or “subjective” responsive creativity. Functional
combination of perceptual modes would bring extraverted perceptual
(“exploring”) or introverted perceptual (“concentrating”) creativity.
Responsive modes could combine functionally to generate extraverted
(“controlling”) or intraverted (“appraising”) combinations.
modes in this way can lead to having three or even four favored modes. Spoto
saw three possible advantages in such an integration, of which the most
relevant here is greater creativity. Singer and Loomis also noted the greater
creativity of such multimodal personalities.(p. 20f).
Some may not
even find these distinctions applicable, in which case they can without
hesitation characterize their perceptual (or responsive} creativity without a
modifier. Given his well-known facility with all the conceptual and factual
modes, Edison might indeed have seen his own
perceptual creativity in this integrated light. Herrmann’s studies indicate a
relatively high frequency of such people among corporation chief executive
two but only one of the eight modes stands out. Spoto (p. 159) says this
situation is most likely to occur in adolescence before a second mode is
developed. Hence it is relatively frequent among students, even at the graduate
level. As they gain experience, many people develop a second or even a third
mode, often in mid-life (Spoto, p. 156). He does not imply that any number of
modes is better or worse than any other (p. 161). When guessing the creative
modes of another person, one tends to underestimate the number because
introverted modes are difficult to detect from outside.
Shadow Modes. Although any
of these eight modes may be used by an individual at some time or other, only
the most preferred, usually two, are definitely associated with the person’s
conscious ego. Beebe has formulated a model including all eight modes, of which
four are for most people unconscious shadow modes (Harris, Thompson, pp.
104-9). He gives archetypal names “opposing personality”, “witch”, “trickster”
and “daemon” to the shadow modes, which would be manifestations of the
destructive creativity proposed by Hillman, as noted at the beginning of this
article. Enumeration of these dramatic and dangerous forms of unconscious
creativity is, however, beyond the scope of this article. For now it is enough
to ponder the implications of those among the eight creative modes that might
become differentiated in a conscious way for any particular person.
Implications for Creative Style Theory
This paper is
significant for the study of creative style as it provides an alternative to
current theories. There is significant opportunity for expansion of the
theories found here including quantitative measurement, assessment and
practical application. In addition, there is the potential for great impact on
undergraduate and graduate courses that examine creativity, innovation and
The context. Serious inquiry into traits of the creative person began after J.P.
Guilfordís inaugural speech to the American Psychological Association in 1950.
In the years immediately following, many researchers examined the traits of
highly creative individuals. Numerous
tests and measures were developed to assess traits exhibited by these highly
creative people. Although research in this area has
continued, (Amibile, 1990) the last 25
years has seen the metaphorical spotlight shift from study of creativity level,
to study of creativity style.
It is interesting that systemic
theories of creative style appear limited in number and acceptance within the
creative studies literature and that much of the academic and pragmatic work
focuses on a few previously established approaches and individuals.
The work of
Michael Kirton and corresponding examinations of his theories have been
consistent and regular over the last 20 years (Kirton, 1976,1984, 1989, Hills
& Gryskiewicz 1988, Foxall & Hackett, 1992; Puccio 1990, Braun 1997,
Chimeto 2000). Guilford’s “Structure of Intellect” model has also gained significant
interest from those interested in creative style (Guiliford 1962, 1975, 1982;
Bachelor & Michael, 1997; ) Herrmann’s work on brain hemisiphericity and
creativity (1989, 1995) has also gained significant interest.
style over level also has related parallels in recent psychological conceptions
of intelligence, (Guilford, 1962; Gardner, 1983) personality typology theory
and measures (Myers & McCaulley,1977; Keirsey, 1987; Hermann 1995) and
problem solving (Basadur, 1989; Puccio,1999)
contains numerous examples where these broader constructs, measures and
theories have been examined as they relate to the construct of creativity and
each other. (Carne & Kirton, 1982; Jacobson, C.M. 1993; Taylor, 1993;
Tefft, 1990, Gryskiewicz, 1992)
alternative model to current creative style theory.
Our work provides a Jungian perspective and a new approach to the theoretical
examination of creative style. The potential pragmatic applications of this
work are significant and there may be correlation with established models and
personality trait measures have attempted to roughly interpret Carl Jungís view
of the psyche (Myers & McCaulley, 1977; Keirsey, 1987), no theory can be
found on specific structure of creative style as it relates to a general theory
of the psyche. This fills that gap and may lead to a new and more comprehensive
understanding of creative style.
It is important
to note that some preliminary and deductive examination of creativity and Jung
has been completed using general personality type measures such as Myers-Briggs
Type Indicator (Gough 1977, Taylor, 1994). The literature seems void of whole
inductive theory on Jung and creativity.
Expansion of theory
presented in this paper. Future work on this theory
may produce a more unified approach to study of creativity both from a
theoretical and practical perspective.
significant remaining theoretical development potential, quantitative and
qualitative measurement potential as well as potential application to graduate
and undergraduate courses in creativity, development of successful problem
solving teams, organizational work climate and the creativity practitioner. The
implications are beyond the scope of this paper.
This article has
restated Jung’s concept of creative impulse as the drive to solve problems. The
conscious ego manifestations of this creative impulse are then classified into
eight creative modes corresponding to the cognitive modes of Jung’s personality
theory. In addition to these constructive ego forms, other destructive modes
generated by the psyche’s shadow have been suggested, although not developed.
The current range of creativity theory as summarized informally by Puccio seems
to encompass half of these eight conscious modes. Of the four remaining, all
but one are more or less built in to contemporary higher education. According
to personality theory, an individual would be expected to access only about two
of the eight modes. Thus a carefully constructed team would be needed to bring
most or all components of the full creative impulse to bear on a given set of
problems. Construction of Stanford’s design engineering student teams has in
fact benefited from an empirical forerunner of the theory developed here.
Acknowledgement. Dr. John
Beebe reviewed and significantly revised the Shadow Modes section.
Gough, H. G.
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Harris, A. S.,
(1996), Living with Paradox: An
Introduction to Jungian Psychology, New
York, Brooks/Cole, pp. 65-74.
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(1936), “Psychological Factors Determining Human Behavior”, Collected Works, 8, 245.
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Indicator (Second Edition), p. 214.
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(2000), “The Essense of Creativity”, presented at the National Collegiate
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M. Loomis (1984), Interpretive Guide for
the Singer-Loomis Inventory of Personality, Palo Alto CA,
Consulting Psychologists Press.
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Appendix A. Performance of Three Ways of Composing Student Teams
statistics covering the awarding of the 12 annual Lincoln Prizes to the last 22
years of ME210/310 student design teams. They have been partitioned into three
groups to reflect our experimentation with using preference questionnaires to
guide team formation. Period I covers the 13 years (1978-1990 and 1996) when
students formed their teams without any preference information. Period II
includes the 6 years (1991-1995 and 1997) when preference information was used
to guide team formation by identifying preference groups each contributing one
member (ideally) to every team. Period III is the 3 most recent years
(1998-2000) in which Mike McNelly's website has been used to tell students what
roles can be inferred from the preference information. The students then form
teams seeking diversity of these roles. Actual teams conform only approximately
to this suggested model, deviations arising from the inevitable influx and
efflux of students from the course.
Total number of teams
Average number of teams
% Silver, Gold & Best Awards
% All Awards
I. No pre-ference info
II. Mode distri-bution
III. Role inference (website)
Prizes awarded for 3 Team Formation Methods
used instead of absolute numbers because the teams have been getting larger and
fewer recently. The table shows progressive improvement as more sophisticated
team formation methods were used. Mode distribution more than doubled the
fraction of teams receiving awards and almost tripled the fraction getting the
top three awards. The role inference website performance for all prizes is
almost triple that for no preference information, and almost quadruple for the
Appendix B. Role Diversity and Prizes, Classes of1998-2000
The top three
lines of the table following show that, in the last three years at least, ME310
teams having more roles covered tended to win better Lincoln awards. On the average, every extra
role above eight (out of sixteen possible) raised the expected prize level to
the next category. The top three prizes (Best, Gold & two Silver) have been
put into the same top category. The other prize category includes three Bronze
and five Merit awards. The bottom category includes all non-winning teams
except those from 2000, for which data is not yet available.
Number of teams
Mean number of roles
Silver, Gold & Best
Merit & Bronze
* 2000 class
data not available
thirteen 1997 teams won eight prizes, data for them was not included here
because there were so many teams that the non-winners included many teams with
a number of roles that would in later years have given them good chances at a
prize. They seem to have been edged out by the competition right here at
Stanford! Consequently the mean number of roles covered was virtually the same
for winners and losers (9.8 and 10.0). For the three later classes this
disparity was 9.8 vs. the 8.4 given in the table. Notice the repetition of 9.8
as the mean number of roles covered by prize-winning teams.
The teams formed
in the Autumn 2000 quarter had exactly the same mean number (9.2) of roles as
in the preceding three years, although the mean dropped slightly to 8.9 for the
new winter teams. This difference is hardly anything to worry about, but there
was an important difference in the dispersion. Whereas the autumn team role
numbers ranged only between 7 and 11, the winter teams varied from 6 to 13. The
main function of constructing teams in the fall without student choice seems
then to be fairness -- keeping the interests distributed more evenly among
teams, at least to begin. It will be interesting to see how the three least
diverse teams (one 6 and two 7s) are regarded by the Lincoln Foundation this
year. There was only one team with as few as 7 roles in the autumn quarter.
By the way,
three of the 23 prizes captured here since 1997 were won by teams with only 7
distinct roles. On two of these, however, the two synthesis roles (Innovator
and Entrepreneur) were covered twice but only counted once. This is not
something I would like students to know, for it might lead to groupings of
people favoring these roles, to the detriment of other teams that need them.