They are (I'm quoting from the article here):
- associating -- a cognitive skill that allows creative people to make connections across seemingly unrelated questions, problems, or ideas;
- questioning -- an ability to ask "what if," "why," and "why not" questions that challenge the status quo and open up the bigger picture;
- ability to closely observe details, particularly the details of people's behavior;
- ability to experiment -- the people studied are always trying on new experiences and exploring new worlds;
- ability to network with smart people who have little in common with them, but from whom they can learn.
If you look at 4-year-olds, they are constantly asking questions and wondering how things work. But by the time they are 6 1/2 years old, they stop asking questions because they quickly learn that teachers value the right answers more than provocative questions. High school students rarely show inquisitiveness. And by the time they're grown up and are in corporate settings, they have already had the curiosity drummed out of them."
Obviously, I'm less interested in this issue for corporate settings and more in terms of the creative act. Does a similar skill-set translate to creative types--artists and writers and poets?
It's an interesting question to me, as I've become less and less satisfied with discussions of left-brain and right-brain cognitive dispositions, or handedness, as indicators (or contraindicators) of creativity. Obviously, this list above catalogs behaviors, rather than cognitive function, so we're tracking effects rather than causes. Nonetheless, coming at the issue from the rear, so to speak, could be helpful.
This past summer, I attended a lecture given by an aesthetics scholar, who wanted to claim that language (which lives on the "rational," left side of the brain) is an ugly hindrance to the unmediated apprehension necessary for right-brained, artistic creation. Problem is, he couldn't explain poetry. He conceded that poets experience unmediated apprehension, just as other types of artists do; yet he couldn't explain how or why they then use language as their medium, particularly as they're not transcribing the experience at some later moment, but writing exactly as they're creating. Hmmmmm...
I did take one of those brain hemispheres quizzes on Facebook. Interestingly, I was *exactly* 50-50, right and left, which I guess is fairly rare. But the real point is, if hemispheric interpretations of creativity don't really work for one medium, why would we assume it works for others?
As for this new research into creative behaviors, I can only say that most artists I know (in any medium) would say that they're naturally inquisitive. Yet I'm not sure all or many fall in line with others of these behaviors; for instance, many artists I know are not all that keen observers of other people. They're fairly inept when it comes to reading social situations or understanding the nuances of a particular culture (Facebook, again, comes to mind). Artists tend to stick to their tribes. Now, the "associating" behavior is right-on-the-money with artists and poets--my mind certainly connects weird stuff together. It's the act of metaphor.
Nonetheless, a lot of artists simply know what they know. Ya know?