Are introverts or extroverts more creative?

I could review numerous research studies of the most common personality traits of creative people. Numerous researchers have analyzed, studied, and found the magic “personality formula” for being most creative. I won’t highlight such studies because I don’t believe them–everyone is creative. However, one of the most important personality attributes, from a creativity standpoint, is to seek out time for self.

Pin itTwin studies find that extraversion/introversion has a genetic component.

Being creative means accepting and honoring our unique personality and gifts. Also we want to honor our extroversion or introversion pattern. It is important to know that whether your dominant creative center is your head, heart or gut center that you can be introverted or extroverted. Our intelligence centers do not discriminate between being extroverted or introverted–our dominant intelligence center can be a full range of “E” versus “I” on this continuum.

Author Susan Cain says, “Studies suggest that many of the most creative people are introverts, and this is partly because of their capacity for quiet. Introverts are careful, reflective thinkers who can tolerate the solitude that idea-generation requires. On the other hand, implementing good ideas requires cooperation, and introverts are more likely to prefer cooperative environments, while extroverts favor competitive ones” (2013, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking).

Most comprehensive personality models include the introversion/extroversion concept in various forms. According to Carl Jung (the pioneering psychologist who wrote Psychological Types in 1921), extroversion is a primary personality orientation to things, events, and persons external to oneself. This is a basic attraction leading extroverts to prize “facts,” social networking, and commonly held values.

Introversion, on the other hand, is a primary orientation to, and interest in, one’s own conscious insights, feelings, intuitions, and logical conclusions. According to Jung’s theory, introversion and extroversion are coordinated in various degrees with four basic personality functions. He emphasized, “There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a man would be in a lunatic asylum.”

According to studies by psychologist Hans Eysenck, introverts require less stimulation from the world in order to be awake and alert than extroverts do. This means introverts are more easily over-stimulated.

People falling near the middle of the spectrum are called “ambiverts” and are equally extroverted and introverted. The important thing is that one is not better than another. Steve Jobs, an extrovert, invented Apple with Steve Wozniak, an introvert. Both famously creative, both honoring and using their temperaments to their advantage. It is very likely that extroverts will do better in high arousal environments than introverts. Each type needs to be cognizant of their preferences in order to enhance their own creativity.

 I am pretty sure that Leonardo da Vinci was more extroverted along this spectrum– sorry Susan! Many Meyers-Briggs personality experts agree with me, with their definition being whether someone prefers to focus on the outer world or their own inner world.

Leonardo is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person whom ever lived–yet he is also famous for a vast number of uncompleted creative works. His interests were very diverse including–but not limited to–painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer. His preference for mental stimulation (head center dominant) shines through loudly! The small number of his paintings that survive is due to his constant, and frequently disastrous, experimentation with new techniques, and his chronic procrastination. The last sentence of a mathematical theorem in Leonardo’s notebook states: “Perche la minesstra si fredda.” This translates as, “Whatever – the soup is getting cold.”

So–what do you think creatives, are introverts or extroverts generally more creative? I guess that all depends on whether you think you are an introvert or extrovert!

Thank you for reading my post (excerpts from my recent book). My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves in my book and at my website and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.

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8 thoughts on “Are introverts or extroverts more creative?

  1. Melanie reber

    I have know artistic types that are one, both and all three. Actually, I think that most artists vacillate between each of these categories depending upon their current state of mind. Certainly inward motivation to create is usually derived from an outside stimulus, but the true artist does need to take that information gathered from all senses and go internal to transform it into results, which are once again ‘framed’ as an example of extrovert-ism. Definitely, the performing arts are a prime example of this.

    1. admin Post author

      Wow, very insightful reply Melanie. I think you “get” the artist’s mind. I believe Rembrandt was the opposite of Leonardo da Vinci, mostly an introvert (all those self-portraits!). He said, “Try to put well in practice what you already know; and in so doing, you will in good time, discover the hidden things which you now inquire about. Practice what you know, and it will help to make clear what now you do not know.”
      Always so good to hear your insights Melanie!

  2. ian dexter palmer

    I’m on the extrovert side. When I ride into town on my horse, the first thing I want to do is go to the saloon to find out what’s going on. I don’t want to miss the fun things in town. Booking a hotel can wait. However, with creative enterprises, to develop the stimulus I need to be by myself. But to market the product of my creativity, I find I need to be an extrovert, boldly telling and selling folks about my material. I did that in a dentist’s chair just yesterday!

    1. admin Post author

      So well stated Ian! Even us introverts must learn to be extroverted to “boldly tell and sell folks about our material…” Somehow we must do it! I love the image of you riding into town on your horse, something many people do around here in the great state of NM! Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. admin Post author

      Oh my gosh Sandy, you are a model extrovert! I admire and respect your great energy, wish I had more of it, many times in my life. Love you lady.

  3. susan schneider

    Dear Betsy, I am definitely an introvert, but I do love getting out, not so much to be stimulated, but to see what everyone is wearing, to hear the scuttle butt. Then, I love coming home and breathing and to see how it all shows up in my own life. I imagine that it is the same for extroverts, but working in the opposite direction for them. Large spaces of time and solitude are not always required for creativity. Sometimes, it takes only a moment. Lots of Love, Sue

    1. admin Post author

      I love this Sue– not so much to be stimulated– but to see what everyone is wearing… spoken like a master seamstress indeed!!! Wishing you a moment right now dear one!


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