Make your own free website on


Chapter 2 - Literature Review

Acknowledgements and Tables of Contents
Chapter 1 - Introduction
Chapter 2 - Literature Review
Chapter 3 - Research Methodology
Chapter 4 - Results
Chapter 5 - Discussion and Conclusion
New Page Title

Chapter 2




2.1       Introduction

This chapter will provide literature review on subject of creativity and creative styles as well as personality traits. There are some ambiguities that arise from the studies of creative personality. Firstly, this chapter will review research studies on creativity and personality. Secondly, this chapter will discuss some of the ambiguities that had so far arisen in various studies of creative personality as well as how these ambiguities may be due to lack of consensus regarding the construct of creative ability and the way it is measured. Thirdly, Kirton’s style approach to creativity will be reviewed followed by Goldberg’s IPIP (International Personality Items Pools) model of the dimensions of personality. Finally, the relationship between creative styles and personality dimensions will be analyzed and discussed.


2.2       Study of Creativity in Singapore

Various studies have been conducted on the area of creativity in Singapore context. A comprehensive review on the study of creativity in Singapore was conducted by Tan (2000). Tan provided useful information on the subject of creativity research. Tan categorized the research done on creativity topic in Singapore into five categories. First category was on “conceptual framework”. Second category was on “conceptions of creativity”. Third category was on “creative competence”. Fourth category was on “creative programs”. Finally, the fifth category was on “creative pedagogy”.

According to Tan (2000), no entry of creativity research was found in PsycLIT between 1982 and 1992. Of the 227 abstracts collected in PsycLIT between 1993 and June 1999, only two (less than 1%) were related to the study of creativity. Compared across themes, the study on creativity in Singapore was significantly less than other themes such as the study on suicide or mental health in Singapore (5% of the total).

Creativity has yet to become a significant theme in Singapore, as evident in the small number of papers presented at the Singapore ERA annual conferences. The study of creativity seems to be influenced by current educational interests. In the 1980s, when creativity in art education was introduced, four theses were dedicated to investigate creativity in the arts. In the 1990s, when creativity in education was emphasized, a revival in creativity research seemed to have taken place. As creativity was only one of the many themes of interest, in some cases there was no significant continuation in the study of creativity by the same researchers. Even the faculty members who supervised theses in creativity did not seem to have full commitment to creativity research (Tan, 2000).

Daphne (2001) conducted a research on the creative styles of Singapore teachers correlate personality traits. The findings provided in the research were interesting and it seeks to highlight the strong correlation between creative styles and personality traits displayed by Singaporean teachers. Nevertheless, Mother tongue teachers were not featured in the research for reason unexplained by the researcher. Therefore it is interesting to investigate how similar or how different are the findings as compared to the similar study conducted on Malay language teachers. Moreover, it is also interesting to note that this study uses the adapted version of Golberg’s IPIP scales whilst Daphne’s study used the NEO-Five Inventory (Costa, and McCrae, 1992).


2.3       Ambiguities in Studies of the Creative Personality

Woodman and Schoenfeldt (1990), Magyari-Beck (1990) and Davis (1992) have postulated that creative behavior and production are influenced or facilitated by personality variables. Although a great deal of research has been devoted to understanding how creative individuals differ from their less creative peers along personality variables (e.g. Kirshenbaum, 1998; Barron and Harrington, 1981; King, Walker and Boyles, 1996), some of these results appear somewhat confusing, and sometimes contradictory.

            Kirshenbaum (1998) for example, notes that creative individuals strive to achieve mastery in a field of endeavor. Individuals usually set high standards for themselves and they tend to be preoccupied within an area of interest. They tend to look up to successful participants in that field and strive to emulate and identify with them. Root-Bernstein, Bernstein, and Garnier (1995) on the other hand discovered positive correlation between the range of interests a person has and his creative accomplishment.

            Barron (1969) states that creative people are able to delay closure on problems and are prone to state of defocused attention which allow greater chances of discovering connections between disparate elements. On the other hand, researchers like MacKinnon (1978), Martindate (1989) and Kirshenbaum (1998) cite the ability of creative people to focus on a single problem, and to quickly recognize and articulate the existence of a problem is ill-structured – i.e., problems where there are no clearly specified goals and where the cognitive operations needed cannot be specified. Barron and Harrington (1981) raise the concern that the picture of a creative person might well vary with age, gender and field of creative activity.

            Creativity is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon and this resulted in ambiguities. A variety of approaches have been developed to understand it in all its diversity. Over the four decades, the focus of creativity research has shifted to different aspects of creativity. The shifts have much to do with how creativity is perceived and defined. According to Davis (1992), creativity is not only concerning the Person aspect, but also Process (or underlying processes of creativity), Product (the nature of creative products), and Press (the sociological and situational factors that influence the expression of creativity).

            One of the classic approaches to creativity, Guildford’s (1950), represents the process approach to creativity. Guildford regarded creativity as consisting of a combination of primary abilities: sensing to problem, fluency in generating ideas, flexibility and novelty of ideas, and the ability to synthesize and organize information. The first four skills are what he calls divergent thinking skills, and the latter two encompasses convergent thinking. Runco (1990) similarly, also emphasizes the ability to generate ideas as well the application of metacognitive and evaluative skills. Creativity is seen as a multistage process that involves the generation of ideas followed by evaluation and application of these ideas. A typical behaviorist definition considers the creative process as below:

How the new comes into being? One natural question often raised is: How do we ever get new verbal creations such as a poem or a brilliant essay? The answer is that we get them by manipulating words, shifting them about until a new pattern is hit upon (Watson, 1928, p.189).


            A different approach to creativity focuses on the creative product. This is a psychometric approach using the so-called creativity tests, with the Test of Creative Thinking (TCT), (Torrance, 1966) and the Unusual Uses Test (Guilford, 1967) as archetypes. Amabile (1996) asserts that instead of looking at the creative process, emphasis should also be given to the Products or “Objective analysis of products”.  According to Amabile (1996), since creativity is “culturally and historically bound”, she suggests that creative products be evaluated by judges who are familiar with the domain through a “consensual technique for creativity assessment” – a product or response is creative to the extent that appropriate experts in the field independently agree it is creative.

            Researchers then discovered that social and environmental factors affected performance on creativity tests (Amabile, 1983). Experiments showed effects of verbal instructions “Your are going to take a creative test,” “Try to be original/practical,” “Respond as a creative person would,” etc.), atmosphere of testing (freedom from stress and time constraint), contextual cues (e.g. screw driver blade similar in shape and colour to wire and pre-testing experience (e.g. verbal associations, drawings viewed).

Amabile (1996) proposes an approach to creativity in which background knowledge, cognitive style, social factors, and environmental influences all contribute to the creative act.  She reports that schools’ environments that are most conducive to creativity include teachers who give individualized attention to students outside of class, serve as models of creative activity, and encourage students to be independent. Creativity in children may also be enhanced when parents are personally secure and relatively unconcerned about conforming to society’s behavioral inhibitions on status and roles. Amabile (1996) noted that the work environment most conducive to creative output include a high level of worker responsibility for initiating new activities and a low level of interference from administrative superiors. Her findings are relevant to the concerns of this study.

            Accompanying these various approaches are different ways of studying and measuring creativity. According to Runco (1990) the ability to generate a variety of ideas or idea fluency is the primary process measured by many standard creativity tests to evaluate creative ability and predict accomplishment. The evaluation and application of these ideas are equally important parts of creativity. However, some researchers have criticized the use of these tests for their limited validity and reliability (Wakefield, 1997; Cooper, 1997).

            However, there are some limitations to Amabile’s consensual technique for creativity assessment. For example, it would be difficult to apply this assessment technique to products that are at the frontiers of particular domain of inquiry. Also, the assessment of creativity seems overly dependent on the personal opinion and preferences of a few judges, who may or may not agree. Another concern is biasness as it is involved in making judgment;   this may lead to issues of subjectivity. At times, a product may be too original or shocking to be successful in terms of public opinion but is judged creative by experts in the field. These experts may be biased in judging people and products that are distinctly different form the mainstream (Kirschenbaum, 1998), taking the view that to be radical and novel is to be creative.

More recently, the family has become a focus of creativity research. Csikszentmihalyi (1993) summarized results of three studies: (a) a longitudinal study of 290 artists, beginning in 1993; (b) a five-year longitudinal study of 210 talented teenagers; and (c) an on-going study of 75 elderly creative individuals in science, art, business, and politics (including some Nobel Prize winners). The conclusion seems rather simple: creativity is found more frequently in ‘complex families’ which provided both encouragement and support. It is interesting to note that traumatic experience in early family life might have a curvilinear relationship with subsequent creativity. 

To add to another ambiguities in the study of creativity, Cropley (1967) argued that one of the most important thing about creativity is that it should lead to worthwhile results, or usefulness. So, are we implying that products that did not meet this aspect of usefulness or create impact to society be labeled not creative?

            Soh (1997) added that there is a need to make a difference between creativity at the personal level and creativity at the socio-cultural level. That is to say, an individual may produce a creative response within the context of his own experience and awareness, without the knowledge that the same or similar response has already independently existed in his or others’ culture or has been made by another individual at about the same time in another location.

            Another approach has involved retrospective or introspective reports, interviews, and biographical studies of notable writers, artists, composers and scientists. An obvious shortcoming of this approach is that introspective reports are notoriously untrustworthy because of the time lag involved.

            Obviously, each of the four P’s (People, Process, Product, Press) represents an important aspects of creativity and each is necessary but not sufficient by itself. And, the definition of creativity needs to take into consideration of such factors.

            Treffinger (1981, 1986) noted that the difficulties of defining intelligence extend to identifying creativity.  But according to Torrance (1984), for centuries the Buddhist have used creativity tests (koans) to select gifted and talented candidates for training, and the ancient Chinese and Japanese identified their geniuses by asking them to create poems. Treffinger (1986) identified more than 60 instruments for identifying creativity, which is to say, that no single assessment instrument has been universally accepted.

Table 1 below provides a summary of the various theories on creativity by well known theorists in the field of creativity.


Table 1: Theories of creativity – Some possible Clusters




Psychoanalytic theories







Creativity can be explained largely by unconscious or preconscious processes.

Human development theories





Creativity is a natural part of healthy development and/ or develops in predictable stages.

Behaviorist associationist theories



Creativity is the result of responses to specific stimuli.

Creativity cognition




Creativity can be explained using the same processes as other aspects of cognition. It is possible that computers may model these processes

System theories


Feldman, Sternberg & Lubart,




Creativity entails complex interactions of elements that may include cognitive processes, personality traits, and interactions with the environment, domain, and field.

Source: Alane (2001)


Due to the ambiguity of the term creativity, Woodman and Schoenfeldt (1990) highlighted that the construct validity issues surrounding the term (creativity) can be quite frustrating. Hence, it may be more beneficial to move away from the usual focus on ‘who is creative?’ to question of ‘How is a person creative?’ With that, this study focuses its’ attention not to investigate who is creative, but accepts that creativity exist. People are creative; however, what kind of creative style does one possesses, in what way people differ, is the one that we are interested in investigating and exploring.


2.4       Kirton’s Adation-Innovation (KAI) Theory

Kirton’s adaption- innovation theory (1976) offers such approach on creativity. The Adaption-Innovation theory is concerned with differences in the thinking style of individuals that affects their creativity, problem solving and decision making. 

Dr. Michael Kirton (1976, 1986, 1989, 1999), points out that early research on creativity focused styles, rather than creative ability. The Adaption-Innovation theory is founded on the assumption that all people solve problems and are creative. The theory sharply distinguishes between level and style of creativity, problem solving and decision making and is concerned only with style. Creative accomplishment can be defined in many ways: peer evaluation, life history, success in developing a creative product and having others appreciate it and so on.

Kirton defined creativity as capacity for initiating change. As a result, views of human creativity have shifted away from evaluating how much creativity a person has, to describe how and in what ways a person is creative. His instrument, the Kirton Adaptor Innovator Inventory (KAI), helps people find their creating styles and how they use them to initiate a change that is both new and relevant to their context.

Kirton stressed that the KAI theory and measure relates to preferred style and not level. While creative level is quantitative construct which looks at how creative Person A is as compared to Person B, creative style is a qualitative construct. In other words, creative style looks at the different ways in which creativity is expressed by Person A and B. Kirton (1994) asserts further that creative style and level are “orthogonally related’. (i.e., they are independent of each other). Taylor (1989) argued that the issue raised by Kirton is not conclusive. However he agreed that separating style from level would circumvent the issue of exposure to the task set and field specific skills which mar the validity and reliability of existing measures of creativity.

Isaken and Dorval (1993) point out those level-style distinctions may explain some of the ambiguous findings of previous research on the creative personality.  They suggest that it may be that the previous contradiction in the findings may be due to studying different creative individuals with different styles of creativity. If this is the case, KAI could help “organize creative characteristics into more meaningful categories” (Isaken and Dorval, 1994, p 306). This  study has taken up the suggestion and will explore further.

Both potential and evident capacity aside, the theory states that people are different in cognitive style in which they are creative, solve problems and make decisions. These style differences lie on a normally distributed continuum, ranging from high adaption to high innovation. The key to the distinction is that the more adaptive prefer their problems to be associated with more structure and more of this structure to be consensually agreed than do the more innovative. The more innovative are comfortable solving problems with less structure and are less concerned that the structure be consensually agreed than are the more adaptive. Such individuals restructure and re-organize problems, approaching them in a new light free form conventional perceptions or presuppositions. As such their creations tend to be more obviously new and seen as “creative”. In essence, however, “novelty and utility characterize both” (Mudd, 1996, p 243). The Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory (KAI) is the measure devised to locate respondents on this continuum.

Kirton has taken the liberty to put his own meaning to the word innovation in this regard. Briefly, innovative creativity changes the status quo in revolutionary ways. Adaptive creativity maintains the status quo and improves its systems in an evolutionary fashion. However, as a result of their different approaches to creating change, adaptors and innovators have somewhat jaundiced view of one another. Adaptors see innovators as abrasive, insensitive and disruptive. On the other hand, innovators see adaptors as being stuffy, not enterprising and heedlessly bound to what they (innovators) perceive to be restrictive and ineffectual systems, rules and norms. Hence, whilst innovators would claim that adaptors originate with a finger on the stop button, adaptors would retort that the innovator is an originator who cannot find such button (Kirton, 1987).

Other research by McHale and Flegg (1986) has substantiated this portrayal of adaptor and innovator. They found, during a team building seminar, that teams composed primarily of adaptors or innovators were very different in their style of working when presented with a problem. The team which primarily composed of adaptors produced a solution to the problem that conformed to the guidelines and was submitted on time. However, the content was rather unexciting and had not made full use of all the available resources. In contrast, the team that included three highly innovative people produced a highly imaginative proposal as a solution to the problem, but was grossly over budget. In addition, it was noted that the latter team had found it extremely difficult to work together, with one innovator-participant having to retire periodically from the group in order to cool down. This corresponds with what Kirton has made of the innovators. Innovators are abrasive and uncompromising and will unlikely show much respect for the theories of another. It does not make any difference to innovators whether that person is an innovator or adaptor.


2.5       Facets Scales of the KAI

From repeated three-factors analysis of KAI measure using the large samples form U.K, U.S.A, New Zealand and Italy, Kirton came up with the characteristic traits. The three factor traits – Sufficiency of Quality, Rule/group governance and Efficiency – are to be reliable distinct (Kirton, 1976, 1987, Goldsmith, 1985).

Sufficiency of Originality (SO) refers to the preference for producing a few  solutions which are implementable to problems as opposed to the propensity for proliferating ideas. A high SO score is seen as an adaptor trait as a regard for existing paradigms tends to lead to a thorough search within it. In addition, a tendency to focus on useful solutions implies that there are too few original ideas which will lead to paradigm-cracking solutions (Kirton, 1994). Adaptors seem to prefer the production of (as distinct from being capable of producing) fewer original ideas, and these are seen as sound, useful and relevant to the situation as they perceive it. Adaptors find this production strategy manageable, efficient and satisfying. By contrast, innovators proliferate ideas, also by preference. Innovators are predisposed towards generating a multitude of ideas, whether or not they are immediately useful or practical. This originality factor relates to an individual’s preference for idea production and must not be confused with level or capacity to produce original ideas (Kirton, 1994). It is interesting to note that much of the prevailing view and measurement of creative ability is based on the latter approach and that this has affected our perception of the creative person (Daphne, 2001).

The second factor, Efficiency (E), involves a concern for being precise, systematic and disciplined. Usually, E can be achieved by developing and not challenging existing policies and practices and hence, is seen as an adaptive process. To support his argument, Kirton cites Weber’s (1970) description of the bureaucrat as being concerned with precision, reliability and efficiency. In contrast innovators, always involve as it does a departure from the existing way of looking at and doing things. Innovators, the opposite, are in some measure a discontinuity, and can rarely be expected to be efficient at first.

The third factor, rule/group conformity (R), refers to whether individuals when searching for solution, to do so in tried and understood ways, maintaining group acceptance and co-operation. Kirton cites the work of Merton (1957) in describing this assumption. According to Merton’s analysis of bureaucratic structure which ‘exerts a constant pressure on officials to be methodical, prudent, disciplined... [and to attain]…an unusual degree of conformity (p.198). These qualities yield high-quality adaption but not innovation. In contrast, the readiness of the innovator to break existing paradigms and cognitive boundaries often proceeds into readiness to downgrade the importance of the other boundaries that are important to the group (Kirton, 1983), and hence implies a low R. Innovators seem more able and willing to resist such pressures, valuing more highly the development of their ideas (Kirton, 1994.p 28).

Mudd (1996) notes that the relationship between the factors is such that Sufficiency of Originality “is the  (implied) source of substantive restructuring that manifest itself at the level of the adaption-innovation continuum. The other 2 scales, Efficiency and Rule/group governance scales were (implicitly) considered to represent processes that inhibit or facilitate such a restructuring process” (p.248). Kirton (1994), suggests that adaptors seem to prefer the production of fewer original ideas at a time and to evaluate carefully for applicability to the problem at hand as they find this strategy more efficient and satisfying. Alternatively, he suggests a positive relationship between Rule/group governance and Efficiency by citing studies by Merton (1957) and Weber (1970) which indicate that organization in general, in order to minimize risk and increase efficiency, exert constant pressure on officials to be methodical, prudent, disciplined and conforming. 

2.6       The KAI and Behaviour   

Table 2 describes the behaviour of the typical adaptors and innovators.

Table 2: Behavioural Descriptions of Adaptors and Innovators



Characterized by precision, reliability, efficiency, methodicalness, prudence, discipline, and conformity

Seen as undisciplined, thinking tangentially, approaching tasks from unsuspected angles.


Concerned with resolving problems rather than finding them

Could be said to discover problems and discover avenues of solutions


Seeks solutions to problems in tried and understood ways

Queries problems’ concomitant and assumptions: manipulates problems.


Reduces problems by improvement and greater efficiency, with maximum of continuity and stability

Is catalyst to settled groups, irreverent of their consensual views, seen as abrasive, creating dissonance.


Seen as sound, conforming, safe, dependable

Seen as unsound impractical; often shocks his opposite.


Liable to make goals of means.

In pursuits of goals,

treats accepted means with little regard.


Seems impervious to boredom, seems able to, maintain high accuracy in long spells of detailed work.

Capable of detailed routine (system maintenance) work for only short bursts. Quick to delegates routine tasks.

Is an authority within given structures

Tends to take control in unstructured situations.


Challenges rules rarely; cautiously, when assured of strong support.

Often challenges rules, has little respect for past custom.


Tends to high self-doubt. Reacts to criticism by closer outward conformity. Vulnerable to social pressure and authority; compliant.

Appears to have low-doubt when generating ideas, not needing consensus to maintain certitude in face of opposition.


Is essential to function of the institution all the time, but occasionally needs to be “dug out” of his systems.

In the institution is ideal in unscheduled crises, or better still to help to avoid them, if he can be controlled.


When collaborating with innovators: supplies stability, order and continuity to the partnership

When collaborating with adaptors: supplies the task orientations, the break with the past and accepted theory.

Sensitive to people, maintains group cohesion and cooperation.

Insensitive to people, often threatens group cohesion and cooperation.


Provides a safe base for the innovator’s riskier operations.

Provides the dynamics to bring about periodic radical change, without which institutions tend to ossify.

Source: Printed in the Journal of Applied Psychology, 1976, 61, 5, 622-629.

Table 3 explains in details of how the adaptors and innovators responded to problems.

Table 3: Characteristics of KAI


High Adaptors

In response to problems is seen by others as:

High Innovators

In response to problems is seen by others as:


Precise, reliable, master of detail;

Conforming, methodical, prudent;

(hence) often pedestrian

Thinking tangentially, approaching tasks from unsuspected angles;

(hence) often undisciplined, ineffective


Seeking solutions to problems in tried and understood ways

Often querying the problem’s basic assumptions; manipulates problems


Solves problems by use of rule

Solves problems despite rule


Maintaining continuity, stability and group cohesion; taking too tight and in-group view

Being a catalyst to settle groups and consensual views; radical but abrasive, creating dissonance


Being an improper—challenging rules rarely and usually when supported; too wedded to the current system

Being a mould-breaker—often challenging rules, customs and consensual views




Producing a (manageable) few relevant, sound, safe ideas for prompt implementation

Producing many ideas including those seen as irrelevant, unsound, exciting, “blue sky” “new dawn”

Source: Kirton (1999, p.34)


Kirton (1994) however, also stresses that the KAI theory and measure relate to preferred style and not to actual behaviour in a given situation. This is because he acknowledges that the individual may act in ways that are not in accordance with his preferred style of problem solving if the environment so demands it and if the individual is motivated enough to comply. However, such behaviour causes stress and strain. The larger the gap between the individual’s preferred style and the style expected by his organization – and the longer that it is maintained – the greater the strain. This may give rise to a desire to leave the situation (Kirton & de Ciantis, 1994). It is understandable that people can be at their best when allowed to operate in their preferred mode. When coping behaviour is no longer needed, there is a likelihood for them to return to their most preferred style.


2.7             The KAI and Personality   

Personality traits are characteristics used to describe differences in behaviour of individuals. They are assumed to describe consistencies in behaviour exhibited by an individual in different situations (Valentina Hlebec). Adaption-Innovation theory is also inferred to be a basic dimension of human personality with meaningful relationships to other personality characteristics. Because Adaption-Innovation is assumed to a basic dimension, the implication is that it should be found to exist early in life and to be stable over both time and incident (Kirton, 1994). People differ in the amount of structure they require and the degree to which that structure is consensually agreed, and differ in the way they feel comfortable in tackling any problem, allowing for different importance of outcome (levels of reward and punishment). These differences in style are set early, highly stable and are described by a cluster of related, entrenched, characteristic personality traits.  

Kirton (1987) also cites studies by other researchers like Goldsmith (1984; 1986c) and de Ciantis (1987) which correlate KAI scores with various other measures of personality like Myers-Briggs Taylor Indicator, Jackson Personality Inventory and Cattell’s 16 Personality Factors. Kirton then draws up the following personality characteristics of adaptor and innovator: The innovator tends in the extreme to be more extraverted, creatively motivated and self-perceptive. He is also more flexible, and hence more tolerant of ambiguity and less dogmatic. Furthermore, he is more independent and self assured. More assertive and abrasive, he is also seen as being less concerned with the view of others and seems more radical and risk-taking. He also appears more spontaneous, if somewhat more undisciplined and expedient. Innovators, by contrast, are more likely in the pursuit of change to reconstruct the problem, separating it from its enveloping accepted thought, paradigms and customary viewpoints, and emerge with much less expected and probably less acceptable solutions. They are less concerned with ‘doing things better’ and more with ‘doing things differently’.

In contrast, the adaptor is seen as more controlled, steady and reliable. He is also more realistic and efficient, although somewhat less stimulating than the innovator. He is also better able to fit into teams and get on with authority. Neither type, Kirton asserts, is likely to be more or less neurotic (Kirton, 1987). The adaptors characteristically produce a sufficiency of ideas based closely on, but stretching, existing agreed definitions of the problem and likely solutions. They look at these in detail and proceed within the established paradigm (theories policies, mores, and practices) that is established in their organizations.  Much of their effort in effecting change is in improving and ‘doing better’.

Kirton continues to assert that as adaption-innovation preferences are applicable over time and over a range of situations, they are a “basic dimension of human personality with meaningful relationship to other personality characteristics” (Kirton, 1994, p 7).

Although Goldsmith (1994) is reluctant to equate adaption-innovation measures with personality per se, he does suggest that the KAI is “self-report summary measure specific behaviour” (p.40) and that it summarizes preferences which are a result of a combination of personality traits. He points out that unlike personality traits, KAI measures are specific to problem solving behaviour in an organizational setting. In addition unlike traits which are generally thought of as unidimensional constructs, adaption-innovation preferences are a result of a combination of underlying traits whose interaction are manifested in particular styles of behaviour in particular situations.

Nevertheless, given the reported high test-retest reliabilities of adaption-innovation patterns of behaviour across time for several populations, (Kirton, 1994, Clapp, 1993), he posits that adaption-innovation patterns of behaviour are the manifestation of underlying differences in personality traits. It was discovered that innovators are more likely to be risk-takers and change-seekers (Goldsmith, 1986). In addition, they also appear to have a greater self-esteem. Alternatively, adaptors seem to be more conservative, are more likely to control their impulses and are less ready to change than innovators (Goldsmith, 1985).

In his study, Goldsmith (1985), proposes the following relationships among abilities, traits, styles and behaviour.





Table 4: Goldsmith’s model of relationships among abilities, traits, styles and behaviour

Primary individual difference

Cognitive Styles


  1. Intelligence
  2. Abilities
  3. Traits

                                 I.      sensation seeking

                               II.      risk taking

                              III.      need for clarity



  • Adaption-Innovation
  • Self-monitoring



  • Decision making
  • Problem solving

From Adaptors and Innovators: Style of Creativity and Problem Solving (p, 42) by M.J. Kirton (ed.), 1994, New York: Routledge

As the above table illustrates, Goldsmith shares the notion of researchers like Woodman & Schoenfeldt (1990) who believe that cognitive styles moderate the link between personality and behaviour. For Goldsmith, one’s preferred style of problem solving is determined by the interaction of many traits and in turn, leads to distinctive types of solutions and related organizational behaviour. Goldsmith suggests further research exploring the relationship between the KAI and other personality constructs.

Bagozzi and Foxall (1995) suggest the possibility of studying the relationship between the KAI and dimensions to five-factor model (McCrae and Costa, 1987).  However, they caution against summing up the three facet scales of the KAI and using it as a single scale. This is because results from tests of single-factoredness of the facet scales suggest that doing so could “obscure the distinctiveness of factor traits” and capitalize in a misleading way on shared variance across factor traits” (p.202). In their study of 149 UK, 142 Australian and 131 American postgraduate students with managerial experience, they found that while there might be relatively high amounts of shared variance across factor traits and that a high positive correlation existed between Sufficiency of Originality and Rule/group governance, and between Efficiency and Rule/group governance, the correlation between Sufficiency of Originality and Efficiency is low. In other words, while the tendency to restrict one’s behaviour to the society expected (R ) is clearly associated with the tendency to work painstakingly towards a defined goal (E) and the tendency to focus on a few  useful solutions (SO), the relationship between preference for efficiency (C) and the preference for focusing on a few solution (SO) is not conclusive.  


2.8       Creative Styles and Personality Traits of Singapore Teachers

Daphne (2001) conducted a study on creative styles and personality traits of  Singapore teachers. However, mother tongue teachers were not included at all in her study. Daphne examines the differences at the level of facets scales of the KAI (i.e., Sufficiency of Originality, Efficiency, Rule/group governance) as well as the broad adaption-innovation preferences and the correlations with the personality traits using McCrae Big Five Personality item pools. Her study mirrors the pattern of findings reported by Bagozzi and Foxall (1995).  Since Daphne (2001) did not include the Mother Tongue teachers in her study, it is therefore interesting to investigate whether the findings would be similar if such correlations study is conducted on the mother tongue teachers, particularly Malay language teachers. Would the findings be similar? This study will attempt to answer the question.


2.9       Traits Theory and Big Five of Personality Model       

The earliest theorist on traits is Allport. Allport (1961) believed that traits are the basic units of personality. According to him, traits represent generalized personality dispositions that account for regularities in the functioning of a person across situations and over time. Traits can be defined by three properties – frequency, intensity and range of situations. Trait concept is necessary to explain the consistency of behaviour, whereas recognition of the importance of the situation is necessary to explain the variability of behaviour. Allport also postulated that traits were hereditary in nature. Although Allport emphasized the concept of trait and tried to clarify its relation to the situation, he did little research to establish the existence and utility of specific trait concepts. Similarly, although he believed that many traits were hereditary, he did not conduct research to substantiate this (Pervin, 1993).

Eysenck (1947) is another theorist who contributed greatly to the study of traits. Although he supports traits theory, he has emphasized the need to develop adequate measures of traits, the need to develop a theory that can be tested and is open to disproof, and the importance of establishing biological foundations for the existence of each trait. The basis for Eysenck’s emphasis on measurement and the development of a classification of traits is the statistical technique of factor analysis.  Through some further statistical procedure, Eysenck determines the basis dimensions that underlie the factors or traits that have been found. Trait theorists agree that human behaviour and personality can be organized into hierarchy. An illustration of this hierarchical point of view comes from the work of Eysenck (1947).

Although Eysenck’s contribution to the research of trait’s theory is significant, he often ignores contradictory findings (Pervin, 1993). Many psychologists feel that it is impossible to account for individual differences with but two or three dimensions as proposed by Eysenck.

Another theorist, Cattell (1943) has been a major force in the development of factor-analysis techniques, as well as techniques for determining the genetic contribution to personality. Furthermore, he has endeavoured to put his work in a cross-cultural perspective. Nevertheless his work is also being criticized.  He was criticized for being so committed to his point of view resulting to unduly accepting of his own efforts and disparaging of the works of others. For example, the gains of clinical and bivariate approaches are minimized and those of the multivariate approach are overstated.

The basic assumption of the trait point of view is that people posses broad predispositions, called traits, to respond in particular ways. Traits are consistent patterns of thoughts, feeling, or actions that distinguish people form one another. Traits are basic tendencies that remain stable across the life span, but characteristic behaviour can change considerably through adaptive process. A trait is an internal characteristic that corresponds to an extreme position on a behavioural dimension. In summary, trait theories suggest that people have broad predispositions to respond in certain ways.


2.10    The Big Five or Five-Factor Model

The search for the structure of personality is as old as the study of human nature itself. Aristotle, for example, classified individuals’ temperaments into several broad categories. It has only been within the last decade, however, that a taxonomic structure has become widely accepted. This categorization, termed the five factor model or more boldly, the Big Five, has revolutionized personality psychology.

One of the most influential scientists to apply empirical procedures to the tasks of constructing personality taxonomy was Raymond B. Cattell, who began with a perusal of English personality-descriptive terms. Allport and Odbert (1936) had catalogued about 18000 such terms and had divided them into four alphabetical lists, the first of which included approximately 4500 terms that they had classified as stable traits. Cattell (1943) used this trait list as a starting point (adding some concepts gleaned from the psychological literature, including various aspects of psychopathology) to construct 171 scales, most of which were bipolar. Guided by the correlations among the 171 scales in some empirical analyses, Cattell (1943) developed a set of 35 bipolar clusters of related terms. Rating scales based on these clusters were then employed in various studies, in each of which the correlations among the variables were factored using oblique rotational procedures (Cattell, 1945).

Cattell has repeatedly claimed to identify at least a dozen oblique factors. In the last two decades, a robust set of five factors has been recovered from almost every major personality inventory. For example, when Cattell’s variables were analyzed by orthogonal rotational methods, only five factors proved to be replicable (e.g. Digman & Takemoto – Chock, 1981); Fiske, 1949; Norman, 1963; Tupes & Christal, 1961). Similar five-factor structures based on other sets of variables have been reported by Borgatta (1964). Goldberg (1981),  after  reviewing the work of other researchers as well as the result of his own, was impressed with the consistency of the results suggested that  “it should be possible to argue the case that any model for structuring individual differences will have to encompass -  at something like these ‘big five’ dimensions”. (p.159). Further studies by Digman and Inouye (1986), and McCrae and Costa (1985, 1987) also show similar results. Although acceptance of the classification is far from universal (e.g. Block, 1995), the robustness of structure across cultures and measures, as well as strong evidence of the heritability of the traits, has led to widespread acceptance of the Big Five model (Timothy & Joyce, 2000).

The Big Five traits are broad personality constructs that are manifested in more specific traits. These Big Five factors have traditionally been numbered and labelled as follows:

                                 I.      Surgency (or Extraversion) represents the tendency to be outgoing, assertive, active, and excitement seeking. Individual scoring high on Extraversion are strongly predisposed to the experience of positive emotions (Watson & Clark, 1997).

                               II.      Agreeableness consists of tendencies to be kind, gentle, trusting and trustworthy, and warm.

                              III.       Conscientiousness (or Dependability) is indicated by two major facets: achievement and dependability.

                           IV.      Emotional Stability is often labelled by its opposite, Neuroticism, which is the tendency to be anxious, fearful, depressed, and moody. Emotional Adjustment is the principal of Big Five trait that leads to life satisfaction and freedom from depression and other mental ailments (McCrae & Costa, 1991). And finally,

                             V.      Culture. Alternatively Factor V has been interpreted as Intellect (e.g. Digman & Takemoto-Chock, 1981; Peabody & Goldberg, 1989) and as Openness to experience (e.g. McCrae & Costa, 1987). Intellect represents the tendency to be creative, imaginative, perceptive, and thoughtful. This factor is the only Big Five trait to display appreciable correlations with intelligence (Timothy & Joyce, 2000).

Although some critics have argued that these five factors have not been sufficiently generalized beyond that initial set of variables (Walter & Ben-Porath, 1987), Goldberg (1990) conducted a study to alleviate any doubts about the generality of Big-Five structure. According to Goldberg, it was reasonable to conclude that analyses of any reasonably large sum sample of Big  English trait adjectives either self- or peer descriptions will elicit a variant of the Five Factor structure, and therefore that virtually all such terms can be represented within this model. In another words, adjectives can be viewed as blends of five major features that relate in a gross way to Power, Love, Work, Affect, and Intellect (Peabody & Goldberg, 1989). These features are clearly dimensional rather than categorical, in nature (Chaplin, John, & Goldberg, 1988). Moreover, it has been shown that it is able to uncover a variant of the Big Five structure from analyses of judgement of the semantic similarity among a representative selection of trait descriptors (Peabody & Goldberg, 1989).

Given that the Big-Five structure seems to characterize the relations among English trait adjectives, it is reasonable to discover its generality to other types of stimuli, as well as other languages (Goldberg, 1981). Although a preliminary taxonomy of common English trait nouns has been constructed (Goldberg, 1990), no empirical analyses of these terms have been undertaken. On the other hand, analyses of Dutch trait nouns are already under way (de Raad & Hoskens, 1990), and the first analyses of German trait adjectives suggest that the Big–Five structures may well characterise the terms in that closely related language (Angeline, Ostendorf, & John, 1990; Ostendorf, 1990).

When one turns from single terms to multiword statements, the picture is less clear. In some factor analyses of scales from one or more personality inventories, the investigators have interpreted their findings in terms of the Big-Five structures (e.g. Noller, Law, & Comrey, 1987), as have some reviewers (e.g. Digman, 1990; John, 1990), whereas other investigators have not (e.g., Zuckerman, Kuhlman, & Camac, 1988). However, only in studies in which markers of the Big-Five structure have been included, is it impossible to discover the actual degree of convergence. To solve this problem, Costa and McCrae (1985) have used questionnaire statements to construct a personality inventory (the NEO Personality Inventory [NEO-PI] based on the Big-Five structure, and these investigators have been actively trying to assimilate the scales from a host of other inventories within the Big-Five frameworks (e.g., Costa, Busch, Zonderman, & McCrae, 1986; Costa & McCrae, 1988; McCrae & Costa, 1985, 1987, 1989).

Table 5: The Big Five Trait Factors and Illustrative Scales


Characteristic of the High Scorer

Traits Scales

Characteristic of the Low Scorer


Worrying, nervous, emotional, insecure, inadequate, hypochondriacal







Calm, relaxed, unemotional, hardy, secure, self-satisfied.


Sociable , active, talkative, person-oriented, optimistic, fun-loving


Energetic approach to the social and material world and includes traits such as sociability, activity, assertiveness, and positive emotionality. (a person is social, talkative and assertive).





Reserved, sober, un exuberant, aloof, task-oriented, retiring, quiet


Curious, broad interests, creative, original, imaginative, untraditional





Conventional, down-to-earth, narrow interests, not artistic, not analytical


Soft-hearted, good-natured, trusting, helpful, forgiving, gullible, straightforward





Cynical, rude, suspicious, uncooperative, vengeful, ruthless, irritable, manipulative


Organized, reliable, hard-working, self-disciplined, punctual, scrupulous, neat, ambitious, persevering





Aimless, unreliable, lazy, careless, lax, negligent, weak-willed, hedonistic

Source: Costa & McCrae, 1986, p.2.

It is important to note that these five factors represent the individual personality at the broadest level of traits description and does not imply that personality differences can be reduced to only five traits (McCrae and John, 1992). Instead each dimension can be considered a kind of a basic trait category (McAdams, 1992), which subsumes a large of distinct and more specific personality characteristics. Hence while the FFM or Big Five does not presume to provide a psychologically differentiated understanding of the individual, it does not provide “a broad framework for the myriad personality constructs that have been offered by theorists from Freud, Adler, Roger and McAdams” (Digman, 1997, p.1246).

The Big Five in the lexical tradition, most vigorously advocated by Goldberg and colleagues, are based upon the lexical hypothesis: that those individual differences that are most salient and socially relevant will come to be encoded into the natural language. Therefore, the Big Five are based upon factor analyses of all (or a large number) of the trait-descriptive adjectives in a natural language, as culled from an unabridged dictionary. The Big Five are meant to provide a comprehensive description of phenotypic personality traits. They are not necessarily meant to have a biological basis.

McCrae and John (1992) assert that the factors in the Big Five model are more than empirical generalizations ground out by computers. Traits theorists have argued that such represent biologically based dispositions that are stable across time and cultures. One way of determining what is important in factor analytic studies of personality are whether the factors are replicable in different samples, perhaps across cultures. The Big Five have been replicated in a number of different languages. Traits study has been conducted in other languages and similar factor structures being found such as when Norman’s rating scales were translated into German (Borkenau and Ostendorf, 1990) Japanese (Bond et al., 1975); Chinese (Yang and Bond, 1990) and Hebrew-speaking Israeli (Birenbaum & Montag, 1986). More recently, Marcias et. al. (2002) has suggested in her findings  “…most of the dimension measured by Philippine personality inventories overlap considerably with, and are adequately encompassed by, dimension of the five-factor model”.

            Benet-Martines and John (1998) found that while cultural differences may well exist in the way specific behaviours are manifested in specific contexts, there is little systematic differences in the ways the Big Five personality traits co-varied in individuals from Hispanic versus Anglo cultural groups in the U.S. This suggests that Big Five might account for human nature across cultures…Philippine constructs are well encompassed by the Big Five model, and thus not very culture specific” (p. 97).  

Big Five personality trait dimensions have also genetic basis. Jang et al. (1998) found in their study of 358 Canadian and 640 German twin samples, that correlation for almost all of the facet traits in the Big Five among monozygotic twins significantly exceeded that of dizygotic twins. In addition most twin studies (e.g. Bergeman et al,. 1993; Jang, Livesley, and Vernon, 1996; Riemann, Anglieitner, and Strelau, 1997) have found substantial heritability for the broad factors, with little evidence of shared environmental effects. Indeed, many studies of various indices of biological functioning (e.g. brain activity, heart rate, hormone level, sweat gland activity) can be cited in support of this conclusion (Eysenck, 1990).

Researchers also found other application of Big Five. Watson and Hubbard (1996) found that Neuroticism is broadly associated with passive and ineffective forms of coping like engaging in substitute activities to take their minds off their immediate problems or sense of denial. Alternatively, they also found that Conscientiousness is related to active, problem-focused response strategies like planning and concentrating more fully on the task of problem solving. Blickle (1996) in addition, found that Openness to Experience covaries positively with the learning strategy of critical evaluation and relationship making whilst Conscientiousness is correlated highly with learning discipline.

Interestingly, a study conducted by Sheldon et al. (1997) in examining the cross-role consistency of the Big Five personality traits in a sample of UK undergraduates, supports the position that the Big Five are trans-contextual personality dispositions. In their study, alpha coefficients represent consistency of traits across roles exceeded 0.8. While the subjects in their study indicated systematic cross-role variability (reporting being most Extraverted in the friend role; most open in the romantic partner role and least Agreeable in the student and child roles). There was situational specificity in their trait rating and rank order stability. In addition, it was discovered that there are costs to assuming varied identities as authenticity and role consistency were found to be positively correlated with satisfaction. It was found that agreeableness was negatively correlated with stress and strain. Hence Big Five factors can be said to be highly stable over time, situations and social roles.


2.11    Criticism

Personality psychologists from variety of different perspectives have converged on a five-factor model of personality (McCrae & Costa, 1990). Using the factor analysis as a basis, the Big Five or the Five-Factor model of personality becomes more apparent. There have been different theoretical perspectives in the field of personality psychology over the years including human motivation, the whole person, and individual differences. The Big Five falls under the perspective of individual differences.

The Big five represents taxonomy (Classification system) of traits that some personality psychologist suggests capture the essence of individual differences in personality. These traits were arrived at through factor analysis studies. Factor analysis is a technique generally done with the use of computers to determine meaningful relationships and patterns in behavioural data. You begin with a large number of behavioural variables. The computer finds relationships or natural connections where variables are maximally correlated with one another and minimally correlated with other variables, and then groups the data accordingly. After this process has been done many times a pattern appears of relationships or certain factors that capture the essence of all of the data. Such a process was used to determine the Big Five Personality factors. Many researchers (including Goldberg and McCrae) tested factors other than the Big Five and found the Big Five to be the only consistently reliable factors.

The Big Five have some important characteristics. First, the factors are dimensions, not types, so people vary continuously on them, with most people falling in between the extremes. Second, the factors are stable over a 45-year period beginning in young adulthood (Solds & Vailant, 1999). Third, the factors and their specific facets are heritable )i.e., genetic), at least in part (Jang, McNcrae, Angleithner, Riemann, & Livesley, 1998); Loehlin, McMcrae, Costa, & John, 1998). Fourth, the factors probably had adaptive value in prehistoric environment (Buss, 1996). Fifth, the factors are considered universal, having been recovered in languages as diverse as German and Chinese (McCrae & Costa, 1997). Sixth, knowing one’s placement on the factors is useful for insight and improvement through therapy ( Costa & McCrae, 1992).

Goldberg’s Big Five, unlike Costa and McCrae’s OCEAN model are not hierarchical. Instead, each pair of Goldberg’s factors forms a circle in two-dimensional space, which together comprise the Abridged Big Five-Dimensional Circumplex, or AB5C (Hofstee, de Radd, & Goldberg, 1992). Pairs of factors form a circle because many items (usually adjectives) have large correlations, or ”loadings” on two factors, rather than just one. The loading are used as x- and y- coordinates to determine the item’s angular location in two-dimensional space. Once its angular space is determined, the item is then projected onto the perimeter of circle. Items have been generated that represent all possible ‘blends” of pairs of the Big Five factors.

Big Five model allows us to locate a wide variety of personality characteristics, and thus enables us to compare and contrast differences between people. In particular, this study will investigate the relationship between the three personality traits – extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness - of the Big Five of personality dimensions and creative styles.


2.12    Relationship between Creativity and Personality

In the study of personality, creativity as a construct is of special interest. Rogers (1980) attributes the ability to be open and to respond spontaneously and creatively to whatever comes along as characteristics to a healthy, fully functioning personality. Such personality is more open and flexible to change and better able to cope with, and even grow from, adversity. He will also strive to cultivate his own unique interests and talents, and to fulfil his full potential. This sense of initiative and mastery according to Harrington et. al. (1987), tends to be the consequence of a socialization style that is warm, supportive, open and relatively constraints-free, and which nudges the child to engage in various kinds of trial-and error learning. On the other hand, a restrictive environment that emphasizes conformity prevents the child from developing autonomous forms of behaviour. This mirrors the characteristics of the adaptors-innovators as postulated by Dr. Michael Kirton. As such, it is the interest of this paper to investigate the relationship of personality and creative styles.

Many studies were carried out in trying to understand creativity. Some of the studies carried out were aimed at providing a picture of how creative individuals differ from their less creative colleagues. Studies by Kirschenbaum, 1998; Barron and Harrington, 1981; Martindale, 1989 and King et al, 1996 illustrate such attempts. After 15 years of research on personality, Harrington and Barron concluded that attributes common to creative people are “high valuation of aesthetic qualities in experience, broad interests, attraction to complexity, high energy, independence of judgement, autonomy, intuition, self-confidence, ability to resolve antinomies or to accommodate apparently opposite or conflicting traits in one’s self-concept, and finally a firm sense of self as creative” (p.453).

MacKinnon (1978), in his study explained the characteristics of creative individuals. Creative persons, according to him have such factors: high energy level, commitment, drive to achieve and produce, devotion to study or work; intense individualism and a preference for working alone, a sense of creative power or an internal locus of control; heightened sensitivity to details and patterns in the physical world. Martindale (1989) adds that openness to experience and unconventionality are function aspects of creative behaviour.

In what way creativity relates to the Big Five model of personality dimension? Researchers discovered (King et al., 1996) that Agreeableness and Neuroticism were unrelated to creative ability (as measured by the verbal component of the Torrance Tests of Creative thinking). On the other hand, Extraversion and Openness to Experience were positively correlated with creative ability. Openness to experience was also associated with higher levels of creative accomplishment in the last two years as reported by subjects. However, Conscientiousness was found to be positively related to creative accomplishments at low levels of creativity, the association was negative at higher levels of creative ability.

The hypotheses of this study would be derived from the investigation of the relationship between personality and creative styles which would be explained in greater details in Chapter 3.