We can work on Influence of Huge Two Meta-Traits on Creativity


The overarching objective of the current study was to describe the effect of the Huge Two meta-traits – plasticity and stability – on creative self-concept and performance in creativity tasks. Data was collected from a sample of 57 university students aged 19 to 48 years. Personality meta-traits were measured using the IPIP-NEO 120 inventory; creative self-concept was measured using the 11-item Short Scale of Creative Self (SSCS); while divergent and convergent thinking were measured using the Alternative Use Test (AUT) and Remote Associates Test (RAT). The findings demonstrated significant correlation between creative self-concept and stability (r = -0.32) and plasticity (r = 0.29). Convergent thinking was not influenced by personality traits while divergent thinking was significantly correlated with plasticity (r = 0.28) but not stability. The lower effect of plasticity on creative self-concept relative to stability contradicted the findings of multiple studies of personality and creativity that measured personality using the Big-Five inventory. Further research is warranted to examine the higher-order personality effects on creativity that are might not be apparent at the Big Five level.

Influence of Huge Two Meta-Traits on Creativity


Creative self-concept (CSC) refers to an individual’s perception of their creative abilities and the importance of creativity to their identity. CSC has been shown to be a strong predictor of creative achievement and in other studies to mediate the relationship between personality and creative ability (Batey, Furnham & Safiullina, 2010; Karwowski & Lebuda, 2016). As such, creative self-concept has practical implications as it will students’ proficiency in certain subjects and individuals’ ability to excel in careers that require creativity or creative problem solving. Researchers consider CSC a surface characteristic of personality that is influenced by hard-core personality factors such as personality traits and IQ as well as environmental and social factors such as training and experience (Batey et al., 2010; Tierney & Farmer, 2011; Zhu et al., 2019).

Empirical researchers looking into the influence of personality on CSC present personality factors as influencing creativity rather than the reverse: Karwowski (2016) argues that this designation of creativity as the dependent variable is supported by the theoretical understanding of personality traits as hard-core factors given their stability over an individual’s lifetime and evidence of genetic influence on personality traits. A significant proportion of research studies on personality and creativity tend to use Goldberg’s Big Five with the salient finding from these studies being a significant relationship between openness to experience and creativity (Batey, Chamorro-Premuzic & Furnham, 2010; Jaussi, Randel & Dionne, 2007; Silvia et al., 2009). The correlation between openness to experience and creativity has, however, been criticized as unreliable when considering the operationalization of openness to experience, especially in shorter inventories of personality (Karwowski & Lebuda, 2016). Some of the items included in the openness to experience subscale of big five personality instruments directly measure creativity traits; consequently, creativity becomes a subset of openness to thereby losing its discriminant validity as openness to experience quantifies the same construct (Karwowski & Lebuda, 2016).

Karwowski and Lebuda (2016) recommend the use of longer Big Five personality scales such as the 60-item Five Factor Inventory, 50-item Big Five Inventory, and International Personality Item Pool as they provide a more faceted picture of openness to experience. In the current study, the researcher will assess personality using the Huge Two meta-traits – plasticity and stability – which is expected to circumvent the synonymity of creativity and openness to experience observed in Big Five inventories as it provides a more complex picture of the plastic aspects of personality. The Huge Two meta-traits, creativity measures, and the relationship between the two as presented in the literature are explored prior to the formulation of testable hypothesis.


            Creativity is a multi-faceted construct that encompasses personal traits and cognitive processes that can be divided into creative self-beliefs and actual creative ability (Karwowski & Lebuda, 2016; Zhu et al., 2019). Creative self-beliefs/self-concept comprises of two lower-order factors – creative self-efficacy and creative personal identity (Karwowski & Lebuda, 2016). Creative self-efficacy refers to an individual’s perception of their ability to produce creative results (Tierney & Farmer, 2011). On the other hand, creative personal identity refers to the importance an individual places on creativity in their personal identity (Karwowski & Lebuda, 2016).  Researchers have presented evidence of the malleability of creative self-efficacy over time, supporting the contention that creativity is a surface level trait that can be influenced by factors such as mentorship and education as well as hard-core personality factors (McNatt & Judge, 2008; Tierney & Farmer, 2011).

Creativity can also be considered in relation to the activity domain. In this context, creative self-beliefs could be domain-specific or general. Domain-specific creative self-beliefs has greater influence on an individual’s creative ability and achievement in a specific field as compared to general creative self-beliefs (Tierney & Farmer, 2011). Creative self-concept was measured using the Short Scale of Creative Self which is domain general and subsumes creative self-efficacy and personal identity. A section of researchers argue that domain-general creativity is of little practical use as creativity in one field does not translate to creativity in a different field and an inventory (Baer, 2015). Karwoski (2016) argues that domain-general creative self-concept has discriminant and incremental validity in explaining the variability in creative achievement over domain-specific creativity. In evaluating an individual’s creative behavior, there exist a crucial difference between divergent and convergent creativity. Divergent thinking captures an individual’s fluency, flexibility, speed, and originality in generating solutions to a problem while convergent thinking refers to an individual’s ability to utilize information they possess to arrive at the best solution to a problem (Zhu et al., 2019). While creative self-belief measures an individual’s perception of their creativity, divergent and convergent thinking tasks operationalize creative ability.

Creativity and the Huge Two Meta-Traits of Personality

DeYoung, Peterson and Higgins (2001) presented plasticity and stability as higher-order factors occurring above and subsuming the factors of the Big Five personality structure. Openness to experience and extraversion make up the plasticity trait while agreeableness, reverse-coded neuroticism (emotional stability), and conscientiousness are subsumed in the stability trait (DeYoung et al., 2001). Silvia et al.’s (2009) study on the effects of high-order and lower-order factors on creativity using a sample of 189 college students showed that plasticity had a significant effect on divergent thinking, everyday creative behavior, creative achievement, global creativity, and domain-specific creativity measures (hands-on creativity, empathic creativity, and math-science creativity) (Silvia et al., 2009). In contrast, stability significantly predicted everyday creative behavior and the math-science and empathic domains of creativity (Silvia et al., 2009). Of the five lower-order factors, openness to experience was shown to predict divergent thinking task performance, both domain-general creativity measures and all domain-specific measures other than math-science creativity (Silvia et al., 2009). Agreeableness and extroversion had no effect on any measure of creativity; neuroticism had a negative effect on empathic and math-science creativity; while conscientiousness has a positive effect on empathic creativity (Silvia et al., 2009). The researchers also reported no significant interaction between plasticity and stability: the two traits had independent main effect but no joint effect on any measure of creativity (Silvia et al., 2009).

Openness to experience has been consistently shown to positively influence both domain-general and domain-specific creativity (Batey et al., 2010; Jaussi et al., 2007 & Werner et al., 2014). Extraversion was also shown to positively influence creativity albeit to a lesser extent than openness to experience (Batey et al., 2010; Werner et al., 2014).  The strength of extraversion and openness to experience as predictors of creative self-beliefs is reiterated in Karwowski and Lebuda’s (2016) met-analysis of 25 studies looking into the relationship between personality and creativity. Neuroticism was reported to have a negative effect on divergent thinking (Batey et al., 2010) and in domain-general, empathic and math-science creativity (Werner et al., 2010). Agreeableness had no influence divergent thinking, domain-general, or domain-specific creativity (Batey et al., 2010; Werner et al., 2010). Conscientiousness had no influence on divergent thinking and general creativity but negatively influenced performing acts creativity (Werner et al., 2010). The findings of Karwowski and Lebuda (2016) meta-analysis demonstrate weaker but significant and positive influence of conscientiousness, emotional stability and agreeableness on creative self-beliefs.

Research Hypotheses

The current study will test four research hypotheses; first, the researcher hypothesizes that creative self-beliefs will be positively associated with divergent and convergent thinking performance. Second, the researcher anticipates that plasticity and stability will be significant predictors of CSC. Plasticity is expected to have a greater influence on CSC than stability as the research on lower-order factors of plasticity, more so openness to experience, provided fairly consistent evidence of a correlation between the traits and CSC while the evidence on lower-order factors of stability is fairly varied (Karwowski & Lebuda, 2016; Silvia et al., 2009). The last two hypotheses relate to the effect of the Huge Two on the creative ability measures.  Plasticity and stability are expected to influence divergent and convergent thinking scores.



The sample study group included third-year psychology students at the Swinburne University. The study included a sample group of fifty-seven participants (female=40, male=17) with their age ranging from 19 years through to 48 years (M=24.35, SD=6.75).

Materials, Measures, and Procedure


The Huge Two meta-traits were measured using the IPIP-NEO 120 inventory (Maple, Guan, Carter & Miller, 2014). Respondents were asked to rate how accurately the 120 phrases in the measurement scale reflect on their personalities on a scale of 1 (very inaccurate) to 5 (very accurate). Rating scores on Openness to experience and Extraversion were then summed up to get the overall Plasticity score. Similarly, scores on Agreeableness, Neuroticism and Conscientiousness were summed to obtain the Stability trait score.

Creative self-concept

Creative self-concept was measured using the 11-item Short Scale of Creative Self (Karwowski, Lebuda, & Wisniewska, 2018). Respondents were expected to rate how accurately each of the 11 statements reflected on their creativity state on a scale of 1 (very inaccurate) to 5 (very accurate).

Creativity Tasks

Divergent thinking was measured using Guilford’s Alternate Uses Task (Guilford, 1967). Respondents were allowed a maximum of three minutes to name as many uses and possible for a list of common items; brick, newspaper, and shoe. Replies were scored using the subjective multiple-rater as described by Silvia et al., (2008) based on how common, remote and clever the responses looked. On a five-point scale, the responses were rated from 1=not creative at all to 5=highly creative. To obtain the creativity index, response scores were averaged by the total number of responses a participant took.

Convergent thinking task was measured using the Remote Associates Test (Mednick, 1962). Here, participants we presented with three remotely associated words and asked to generate a related word. Respondents were presented with thirty questions within three minutes and one mark warded for every correct response. The overall RAT score was obtained by averaging the score for the total number of questions attempted correctly.


Participants signed an informed consent form before participation. They were then briefed on the research objectives, expectations for participants, and informed of their right to withdraw from the study at any point. Individuals were randomly assigned to complete two counterbalanced creative activities using the Inquisit program within a time span of 15 minutes. Self-report questions targeted at examining personality and creative self-concept were completed via Qualtrics at an individual’s convenient time outside class and responses returned within one week.


The mean and standard deviation of the three creativity variables and Huge Two traits are summarized in Table 1. The mean proportion of correct RAT answers was 0.12 (SD = 0.09): on average, participants scored correctly on 12% of the 30 questions. The mean AUT score was 1.89 (SD = 0.35): raters perceived low average divergent thinking ability as the mean is considerably lower than the midpoint of the possible range.

Table 1

Descriptive Statistics of Personality and Creativity Variables

 NMSDRAT Proportion570.120.09AUT Score571.890.35Stability57249.7525.93Plasticity57167.6118.77Creative self-concept score573.630.7

Hypothesis 1: Correlation of Creative Self-Beliefs, Convergent and Divergent Thinking

            The correlation between variables is presented in Table 2 and in Figures 1 to 3 below.  Convergent thinking, as measured by RAT proportion, was not significantly correlated with the Huge Two met-traits nor with the other two creativity measures at an alpha level of 0.05. Divergent thinking, as measured by AUT score, was significantly and positively correlated with plasticity (r = 0.28) but not with stability or creative self-concept. Creative self-concept was negatively and significantly correlated with stability (r = -0.32) and positively and significantly correlated with plasticity (r = 0.29). An increase in stability scores is associated with a decrease in creative self-concept while an increase in plasticity scores is associated with an increase in the dependent variable. Stability and plasticity were negatively and significantly correlated (r = -0.29) indicating that higher extroversion and openness to experience is associated with lower stability.

Table 2

Intercorrelation Among Personality and Creativity Variables

 Creative self-concept scorePlasticityStabilityAUT ScorePlasticity0.29*Stability-0.32*-0.29*AUT Score0.150.28*0.05RAT Proportion0.11-

Note. * p < 0.05; N = 57

Figure 1. Huge Two and RAT Proportion                 Figure 2. Huge Two and AUT Scores

Figure 3. Huge Two & Creative Self-Concept Figure 4. Correlation between creativity variables

Hypothesis 2: Plasticity and Stability are Significant Predictors of CSC.

            The predictive value of the huge two meta-traits in explaining the variation in creative self-belief was assessed using multiple linear regression. The results are summarized Table 3 below. The overall model was significant (F(2, 54) = 4.46, p = 0.02) and explained 14.2% of the variation in the dependent variable, providing support for the hypothesized influence of higher-order personality traits on creative self-concept. Individually, none of the variables had a non-significant effect on creative self-belief at an alpha level of 0.05, suggesting that there is substantial overlap in the component of creative self-concept explained by the two traits.

Table 3

Results for Regression with Creative Self-Concept as DV

VariablesSquared part correlationPartial correlationStandardized regression coefficientsStability0.061-0.257-0.256Plasticity0.0400.2110.209R²= .142

Hypotheses 3 & 4: Plasticity and Stability are Significant Predictors of Divergent and Convergent Thinking

The influence of stability and plasticity on convergent and divergent thinking was analyzed using a multiple regression model and the results are summarized in the tables 4 and 5 below. The convergent thinking model was non-significant (F(2,54) = 0.56, p = 0.58), with the two variables explaining 2% of the regression in the dependent variable. This was expected given the non-significance of the correlation between RAT scores and the Huge Two meta-traits. Similarly, the joint effect of stability and plasticity on the divergent thinking task performance was non-significant (F(2, 54) = 2.97, p = 0.06) with the variables explaining 10% of the variation in AUT scores. However, plasticity had a significant effect (t(55) = 2.41, p = 0.02) on divergent thinking at an alpha level of 0.05 when holding stability constant.

Table 4

Results for Regression with Convergent Thinking as DV

VariablesSquared part correlationPartial correlationStandardized regression coefficientsStability    0.0050.0690.072Plasticity    0.010-0.100-0.104R²= .02

Table 5

Results for Regression with Divergent Thinking as DV

VariablesSquared part correlationPartial correlationStandardized regression coefficientsStability    0.0180.14100.141Plasticity    0.0970.31200.326R²= .099


            The hypothesis of a relationship between creative self-concept and the two creativity tasks was assessed using bivariate correlation. The correlation between CSC and divergent and convergent thinking was non-significant. These results coincide with the findings of Batey et al. (2010) who demonstrated a non-significant association between self-ratings of creativity and divergent thinking fluency and creativity. Similar to the current study, Batey et al. (2010) measured divergent thinking creativity using Guilford’s (1967) AUT and also measured fluency as the number of responses to the AUT. The researchers measured self-reported creativity using Batey’s (2007) 10-item self-rating of creativity scale. Thus, empirical evidence refutes the theoretical relationship that is assumed to exist between self-perception of creativity and creative ability as measured by the divergent thinking task.

            The Huge Two traits had no effect on convergent thinking, which contradicted the researcher’s expectation. However, plasticity was positively and significantly correlated with divergent thinking. The significant correlation of plasticity on divergent thinking is congruent with Furnham et al.’s (2008) findings of a significant effect of extraversion and openness to experience on divergent thinking. The researcher also hypothesized that creative self-belief would moderate the effect of the Huge Two meta-traits on divergent thinking: the effect of plasticity was expected to be non-significant when controlling for creative self-belief. This expectation was subverted as creative self-belief was uncorrelated with divergent thinking and could, therefore, not moderate the relationship between plasticity and divergent creativity.

The researcher further hypothesized that stability and plasticity influence creative self-belief with the latter having a larger effect on the dependent variable. The correlation analysis showed that creative self-belief was significantly correlated with stability and plasticity. Stability had a negative effect on creative self-concept while plasticity had a positive effect on the variable. The negative effect of stability on creative self-concept was as reported in Karwowski and Lebuda (2016). Comparing the size of the stability effect using the regression coefficients, the effect of stability was considerably smaller in the current study (β = -0.007) as compared to Karwowski and Lebuda’s (2016) study (β = -0.23). The observed effect of stability on creative self-belief is similar to the findings of Silvia et al. (2009). As in the current study, the researchers reported a negative correlation between stability and domain-general creativity that was insignificant in a multiple regression model.

While plasticity was positively and significantly correlated with creative self-concept, the extent of correlation was lower than expected: the trait was correlated with the dependent variable to a lesser extent than stability and its effect on creative self-belief was non-significant in a regression with stability as a predictor. The findings contradict those of multiple researchers who found a significant effect of plasticity and lower-order components of plasticity on various creativity measures when controlling for stability (Batey et al., 2010; Karwowski & Lebuda, 2016; Silvia et al., 2009; Werner et al., 2014)

The expectation for a stronger plasticity-CSC correlation was based on the consistently high correlation between openness to experience – a lower-order factor in plasticity – and creative self-belief reported in the literature (Karwowski & Lebuda, 2016). Karwowski and Lebuda’s (2016) meta-analysis indicated that openness to experience and extraversion were the most correlated with creative self-beliefs as compared to the traits included in the stability meta-trait, which showcased ambiguous relation with creativity. Their findings were supported by the findings of empirical studies looking into the effect of the Big Five traits on creative ability (Batey et al., 2010; Silvia et al., 2009; Werner et al., 2014).

The current study findings suggest that the higher order stability factor has predictive value on creative self-belief that is less apparent at the Big Five level. In contrast, the high correlation between openness to experience and creative self-beliefs – which Karwowski and Lebuda (2016) suggest could emanate from the synonymity of openness to experience with creativity – is lower when openness to experience is presented is a more complex factor. This argument is, however, weakened by the findings of Silvia et al. (2009), who reported a significant effect of plasticity and non-significant effect of stability on domain-general creativity. Given that Silvia et al.’s (2009) study was the only empirical study of the relationship between creativity measures and Huge Two meta-traits, further research into the area is needed to clarify the relationship between the higher order personality traits and creativity.


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