Can psychology boost our creative potential?

Few things are more certain to personality psychologists than the idea that habits are hard to break. Consider the following: personality remains very stable throughout the lifespan, especially from adulthood onwards; early measures of personality (what we call “temperament”) predict adult personality with substantial accuracy; and twin studies show that similarity in both normal and clinical personality traits is more influenced by genetic than environmental factors.

Yet, it would be stupid to argue that parenting, schooling, relationships and other life experiences do not affect our typical patterns of behavior, thought and emotion. We come to this world naked, mute and uncoordinated but our interactions with others turn us into sophisticated creatures – activating, and sometimes maximizing, our biological potential. One important question, then, is whether we can deliberately and strategically affect individuals to model their style, preferences, values, and aptitudes. For example, is it possible to boost people’s creative or entrepreneurial potential? More specifically, what psychological methods and theories are available to empower individuals to become more imaginative, original, and disruptive thinkers? And would these interventions work with adults (given that the essence of personality is pretty much settled after adolescence)?

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