Creative Genius as a Personality Phenomenon: Definitions, Methods, Findings, and Issues



Genius first became the subject of scientific inquiry in the early 19th century, and it has continued to attract research interest to the present day. Although genius can be defined as either superlative intelligence or achieved eminence, this review is restricted to the latter definition, and is further confined to creative achievement. The article then describes the main methods for studying creative genius as a personality phenomenon. These methods entail three central dichotomous methodological decisions: single-case versus multiple-case samples, qualitative versus quantitative analyses, and direct versus indirect assessments. Next, the main empirical findings are presented with respect to both generic traits and domain-contingent traits. There follows a brief discussion of three major issues: genetic and environmental influences, additive and multiplicative effects, and individual and situational factors. Given the intrinsic importance of the phenomenon and the many questions still unanswered, creative genius certainly deserves future treatment in personality psychology.