Saturday, December 16, 2006

Night Owls are more creative

Wow Is this why I'm up all night painting?

It seems people who're up late at night are more creative than those who get up early in the morning, according to a Discovery News report. It's thought to have something to do with "an adaptation to living outside of the norm". Read more about the link between creativity and night owls...

"Being in a situation which diverges from conventional habit — nocturnal types often experience this situation — may encourage the development of a non-conventional spirit and of the ability to find alternative and original solutions," lead author Marina Giampietro and colleague G.M. Cavallera wrote in a study to be published in the February 2007 issue of Personality and Individual Differences.

The researchers, who are both in the Department of Psychology at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, Italy, studied 120 men and women of varying ages.

A self-report questionnaire evaluated degrees of morning and evening dispositions. In fact, true morning and evening-oriented people are actually rare, since most of us fall somewhere in between.

Once the subjects were categorized into either morning, evening or intermediate types, they underwent three tests designed to measure creative thinking.

During the first activity, test subjects were asked to draw and title a picture based on an image shown by the researchers. For the second activity, called "incomplete shapes," test subjects added lines to create pictures out of straight and curved lines. They then were asked to title the pictures.

The final test was similar, only this time the individuals were presented with 30 pairs of vertical lines.

Scientists scored each completed activity on originality, elaboration, fluidity and flexibility factors. Evening types aced each test based on these criteria, while morning and intermediate type people struggled to get scores over 50.

The researchers also discovered that age didn’t curtail creativity.

"Our study supports the notion that creative characteristics persist in aged people," the scientists wrote.

Hans Van Dongen, associate research professor at the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University, helped to discover the biological explanation behind morning and evening types.

He and his colleagues found that a small group of brain cells, called suprachiasmatic nuclei, emit signals to the body that synchronize the time of day. This "biological clock" runs two hours ahead in morning types and two hours later in evening types.

Morning and evening-oriented people may follow other schedules, due to work, school and other demands, but their preferred schedule is more in sync with this internal clock, which may be partly determined by genetics.

Van Dongen told Discovery News that the finding about creativity and evening types is "certainly novel, and one I would not have expected on biological grounds."

He suggested that the observed differences in creativity might have to do with the fact that evening people also tend to be more extroverted than morning and intermediate types.

"One could reasonably envision a link between the personality trait of extraversion and the finding of creativity," Van Dongen said.


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