Characteristics of highly creative individuals

“Creative thinking involves imagining familiar things in a new light, digging below the surface to find previously undetected patterns, and finding connections among unrelated phenomena.

Roger von Oech, Expect the unexpected

Identifying highly creative people:

Look at the following characteristics and think about yourself, or other people who you perceive as creative. As you read each description, see if you can calculate a rating for each from the array of choices – most of the time; sometimes; or infrequently. This exercise may help you decide if you, or those you know, fall into a group that is considered highly creative. Obviously, the more times you rate “most of the time,” the more likelihood that person can be classified as highly creative. If you are doing this as a self-reflective analysis, be honest and not overly humble or boastful. Try to look at yourself objectively and from a comparative perspective.

There are also variable levels of personal creativity. When you have finished here you might be interested in viewing Levels of Creativity, and the David Perkin’s Snowflake Model of Creativity.

Highly creative individuals may:

1. Display a great deal of curiosity about many things; are constantly asking questions about anything and everything; may have broad interests in many unrelated areas. May devise collections based on unusual things and interests.

2. Generate a large number of ideas or solutions to problems and questions; often offer unusual (“way out”), unique, clever responses.

3. Are often uninhibited in expressions of opinion; are sometimes radical and spirited in disagreement; are unusually tenacious or persistent — fixating on an idea or project.

4. Are willing to take risks, are often people who are described as a “high risk taker, or adventurous, or speculative.”

5. Display a good deal of intellectual playfulness; may frequently be caught fantasizing, daydreaming or imagining. Often wonder out loud and might be heard saying, “I wonder what would happen if. . .”; or “What if we change . . ..” Can manipulate ideas by easily changing, elaborating, adapting, improving, or modifying the original idea or the ideas of others.” Are often concerned improving the conceptual frameworks of institutions, objects, and systems.

6. Display keen senses of humor and see humor in situations that may not appear to be humorous to others. Sometimes their humor may appear bizarre, inappropriate, or irreverent to others.

7. Are unusually aware of his or her impulses and are often more open to the irrational within him or herself. May freely display opposite gender characteristics  — may be androgynous (freer expression of feminine interests in boys or as males they are considered ultra sensitive, or greater than usual amount of independence or assertiveness for girls).

8. Exhibit heightened emotional sensitivity. May be very sensitive to beauty, and visibly moved by aesthetic experiences.

9. Are frequently perceived as nonconforming; accept disordered of chaotic environments or situations; are frequently not interested in details, are described as individualistic; or do not fear being classified as “different.”

10. Criticize constructively, and are unwilling to accept authoritarian pronouncements without overly critical self-examination.

Adopted and adapted from the scale for Rating Behavioral Characteristics of Superior Students by Renzulli and Hartman

Other Traits and States


Characteristics of creatively gifted individuals

Possible negative traits of creative people or non-conforming behaviors

  1. Independent, anti‑authoritarian
  2. Divergent thinker
  3. Generally considered intelligent
  4. Open to new ideas
  5. Little tolerance for boredom
  6. Willing to undertake stimulating challenges, curious and inquisitive
  7. Self‑actualizer
  8. Aesthetically inclined
  9. Above average use of those skills attributed to the brain’s hemisphere
  10. Strong imagery ability and spatial skills
  11. Abilities of sensory synthesis; tasting color, seeing sound, hearing smells (synesthesia)
  12. Generally unaffected by peer pressure
  13. Highly versatile and adaptable
  14. Score high on Torrance Tests of Creative Ability in the following areas:
    • fluency‑‑produce numerous ideas
    • flexibility‑‑produce variety of ideas and approaches
    • originality‑‑novel ideas
    • elaboration‑‑fill in details
    • redefinition‑‑define or perceive in way different from the average
  1. Stubborn
  2. Challenges Authority
  3. Unconventional
  4. Uncooperative
  5. Assertive
  6. Cynical
  7. Sloppy or Careless
  8. Questions or Challenges Rules
  9. Temperamental
  10. Withdrawn



Email Leslie