Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Exploring the role of schizotypy in creative cognition

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Version 2 2023-09-26, 01:37
Version 1 2021-12-09, 03:11
posted on 2023-09-26, 01:37 authored by Sophie Hedley

Creativity is hugely important in our everyday lives. Understanding what makes some people more creative than others is not just important in traditional creative fields. Creative problem solving is the key to solving all significant challenges we face as a society, including but not limited to technological, political and environmental challenges. Mental illness, in both popular culture and in psychological science, have long been linked to creative thought. Many eminent creatives, both past and current, attribute their success to their mental illness. For example, in schizophrenia, the grandiose thinking and florid hallucinations that characterise this disorder may be supportive of creative thinking.   However, schizophrenia is characterised by severe cognitive deficits that, according to models of creativity, would be disadvantageous to creative thinking. Schizotypy is a personality trait that is characterised by some features of schizophrenia (unusual thinking, poor interpersonal communication), but is not accompanied by the same severe cognitive deficits seen in schizophrenia. Based on this view, it is reasonable to assume that people high on schizotypal traits may be more creative than those who are low on schizotypal traits.   While there a number of studies examining this relationship, findings are inconsistent, with effect sizes ranging from -.42 to .8. In my thesis, I explored a) whether there was a relationship between schizotypy and creativity and b) whether that relationship could be explained by underlying differences in cognitive processing (associative processing and executive control). I predicted that positive schizotypy in particular (typified by unusual thinking, superstitious beliefs) would be positively correlated with schizotypy in three different measures of creativity (two performance based tasks and one self-report measure) in two different samples of participants.   In Chapters 3 + 4, I tested the relationship between schizotypy and creativity using two different methods. In chapter 3, I found no evidence for the predicted effect. In fact, I found a negative association between positive schizotypy and scores on one measure of creativity (the Remote Associates test) and a positive association between negative schizotypy (characterised by interpersonal deficits) and performance on the RAT. These effects did not replicate in the second sample. Finally, there was a positive association between disorganised schizotypy and creativity on the Alternate Uses task. The results of Chapter 4, using a latent profile analytic approach, mirrored the results of Chapter 3. Finally, Chapter 5 found no support for any relationship being mediated by associative processing or executive control; however, there was partial support for two models of creativity. Overall, evidence suggests that schizotypal traits are not helpful for creativity. These results shed light on some of the challenges when conducting research regarding both schizotypy and creativity.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Psychology


Grimshaw, Gina; Wilson, Marc