Thursday, March 19, 2009

Motivations Behind Cool Creations Study Results

[I participated in this study a few months ago. I completely forgot about it until I received the results yesterday! Here is an abbreviated version of the results that I received and my personal insight.]

Thank you for participating in my research on the Motivations behind Cool Creations. I am still preparing the findings, but the preliminary evidence provides some unique and important results for the study of motivation in general and for the study of creating unique products in particular.

The Five Factor Model of Personality

The dominant paradigm or most agreed upon way for measuring personality is the Five Factor Model. Although, as with any scientific tradition, there are still debates and opportunities to refine this paradigm, thousands of studies on hundreds of thousands of participants have led to a general consensus that the Five Factor Model provides a simple, yet compelling way to describe
personalities. I have supplied the Wikipedia definition of each of the five factors below (the definitions are so widely held and agreed upon that the open-nature of Wikipedia seemed to be an appropriate source – plus it’s less technical than most research definitions!).

Your Personality and Research Findings
The table below shows you your personality scores. Each of the Five Factors was measured using ten questions. The overall score represents the average of your responses to these questions[mine are shown in blue]. The graph also shows you the average of all the participants in this study. There were 187 people that completed the study. 98% of the participants were female. The average age was 37 and 63% of the participants had a college degree. [these are shown in purple]I have also included personality factor averages from a separate, independent study of over 2,000 college students (just to provide another point of comparison).[shown in white]There is no “right or wrong” in this data. In other words, you don’t necessarily want to be higher than the average or lower than the average. The point is self discovery, to learn more about your natural tendencies and thereby emphasize your strengths or find ways to mitigate weaknesses. Comparison only helps as it allows you to better identify these strengths and weaknesses.

To provide some direction in thinking about how these factors might help you understand yourself more, let me briefly review some research findings that I think would be interesting for individuals participating in Etsy – the first looks at personality and entrepreneurship and the second looks at personality and artists.

Personality and Entrepreneurship
A recent study by Zhao and Seibert (2006) compared the findings of 23 studies (over 3,000 people) that looked at entrepreneurs and personality. They found that entrepreneurs (when compared to managers inside typical organizations) were more conscientious and more open to new experiences but they were less neurotic and agreeable. In other words, entrepreneurs tend to be “wired” in a way that allows them to be more driven to succeed and more creative than others. But in the process, entrepreneurs also tend to pay a bit less attention to detail and to other’s feelings. So, you might ask yourself:

• Do these findings fit the scores I received?Pretty much, but I am somewhat puzzled by the high extroversion result. I do like other people's company but I'm very selective of the people I socialize with and have always considered myself rather shy.
Do they match the comparison between me and the college students?I've always struggled with the structure and politics of American universities (I feel they stifle creativity and personal expression in lieu of conformity but that's my opinion and a big reason why I never completed my degree) so it doesn't shock me that I am out of skew with that of the average college student.:o)[and in light of this insight it makes me question the result of being highly agreeable]
• Does this description of an entrepreneur resonate with me?Yup
• In which of these entrepreneurial skills did I score highest?Openness Do I adequately
accentuate this potential strength?Absolutely
• In which of these entrepreneurial skills did I score lowest? I think the bigger problem is I scored high in agreeableness. Perhaps I need to be conscious of not putting others needs ahead of my own to achieve the success I desire.
Do I adequately mitigate this potential weakness? I don't believe I do, I'm truly a nice person and I think part of that is agreeableness. I'll have to figure out a way to work this into my business to my benefit not

Personality and Artists
Work by Feist (1998) analyzed the findings of 39 studies (over 4,000 people). Each of these studies compared artists with non-artists. Feist found that artists were higher on openness to experience but lower on conscientiousness. So, like entrepreneurs, artists were more creative than non-artists, but unlike entrepreneurs, artists tend to be lower on attention to detail. Or, Feist’s words: “[artists] were less cautious, conscientious, controlled, orderly, and reliable; they
were more aesthetic, creative, curious, imaginative, open to experience, sensitive, and original; and finally they were less conventional, rigid, and socialized” (1998:298).
So, you might ask yourself:

• Does this description of an artist resonate with me?Absolutely, although I'm shocked that they wouldn't be concerned with detail in their art.
• How does this description fit with my personality scores?Makes perfect since openness was my highest score and it seems to relate directly to my creative nature.
• What can I do to enhance strengths that might result from having an artistic personality?
• What can I do to mitigate weaknesses that might result from having an artistic personality?
I don't have any answers to the last two questions, I have an artistic personality for better or worse, haven't been able to change it for 40 years and honestly don't want to! I will take it for better or worse!:o)

Defining each Factor (from
Openness is a general appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, imagination, curiosity, and variety of experience. The trait distinguishes imaginative people from down-to-earth, conventional people. People who are open to experience are intellectually curious, appreciative of art, and sensitive to beauty. They tend to be, compared to closed people, more creative and more aware of their feelings. They are more likely to hold unconventional beliefs.

People with low scores on openness tend to have more conventional, traditional interests. They prefer the plain, straightforward, and obvious over the complex, ambiguous, and subtle. They may regard the arts and sciences with suspicion, regarding these endeavors as abstruse or of no practical use. Closed people prefer familiarity over novelty. They are conservative and resistant to change.

Neuroticism is the tendency to experience negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, or depression. It is sometimes called emotional instability. Those who score high in neuroticism are emotionally reactive and vulnerable to stress. They are more likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening, and minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult. Their negative emotional reactions tend to persist for unusually long periods of time, which means they are often in a bad mood. These problems in emotional regulation can diminish a neurotic's ability to think clearly, make decisions, and cope effectively with stress.

At the other end of the scale, individuals who score low in neuroticism are less easily upset and are less emotionally reactive. They tend to be calm, emotionally stable, and free from persistent negative feelings. Freedom from negative feelings does not mean that low scorers experience a lot of positive feelings. Frequency of positive emotions is a component of the Extraversion domain.

Extraversion, also called "extroversion," is characterized by positive emotions, surgency, and the tendency to seek out stimulation and the company of others.The trait is marked by pronounced engagement with the external world. Extraverts enjoy being with people, and are often perceived as full of energy. They tend to be enthusiastic, action-oriented individuals who are likely to say "Yes!" or "Let's go!" to opportunities for excitement. In groups they like to talk,
assert themselves, and draw attention to themselves.

Introverts lack the exuberance, energy, and activity levels of extraverts. They tend to be quiet, low-key, deliberate, and less involved in the social world. Their lack of social involvement should not be interpreted as shyness or depression. Introverts simply need less stimulation than extraverts and more time alone.

Conscientiousness is a tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement. The trait shows a preference for planned rather than spontaneous behavior. It influences the way in which we control, regulate, and direct our impulses. Conscientiousness includes the factor known as Need for Achievement (NAch).
The benefits of high conscientiousness are obvious. Conscientious individuals avoid trouble and achieve high levels of success through purposeful planning and persistence. They are also positively regarded by others as intelligent and reliable. On the negative side, they can be compulsive perfectionists and workaholics.

Agreeableness is a tendency to be compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards others. The trait reflects individual differences in concern for social harmony. Agreeable individuals value getting along with others. They are generally considerate, friendly, generous, helpful, and willing to compromise their interests with others. Agreeable people also have an optimistic view of human nature. They believe people are basically honest, decent, and trustworthy.

Disagreeable individuals place self-interest above getting along with others. They are generally unconcerned with others’ well-being, and are less likely to extend themselves for other people. Sometimes their skepticism about others’ motives causes them to be suspicious, unfriendly, and uncooperative.

Other projects by Spencer you may be interested in participating:

Blogging about curiosity – a community art project

I am creating a virtual “curio cabinet” – a collection of images, stories, and collages that describe moments of curiosity or that inspire curiosity. Each week I receive artistic descriptions and depictions of curiosity and I post them to inspire others. To participate simply email me an example of curiosity or a curio at:

You can read the blog here:

Spouse study

History is filled with examples of artists and their spouses or partners. In some cases, one is an artist and the other serves as a support: Helen managed the affairs of Dr. Suess, Lee Krasner faithfully promoted the work of her husband Jackson Pollock. In other cases, both are artists such as Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Members of Etsy are interested in these dynamics (type "spouse" in the forums and you'll see a number of threads). This study will explore how relationships between spouses/partners or close friends impacts creation and creativity. To sign up, simply cut and paste the link below into your browser. The study will begin Fall 2009.

No comments: