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Potentially Negative Characteristics of Creative Individuals

Note: “Creative” is a subcategory of “gifted.”  A person can be creative/gifted even if their IQ is less than 130 (above an IQ of 125, there is no correlation between creativity scores and IQ).

  • overactive physically or mentally
  • sloppiness and disorganization with unimportant matters
  • forgetful, absentminded, mind wanders, watches windows
  • low interest in details
  • demanding, assertive, autocratic
  • capricious
  • may not participate in class activities
  • indifference to common conventions and courtesies
  • temperamental, moody
  • emotional, withdrawn, aloof, uncommunicative
  • argumentative, cynical, sarcastic, rebellious
  • tends to question laws, rules, authority in general
  • stubborn, uncooperative, resists domination
  • argues that the rest of the parade is out of step

Researchers have identified school situations which tend to inspire negative behavior in creative children:

  • lack of challenging and relevant content/curricula
  • use of inappropriate instructional approaches/strategies
  • use of extrinsic rewards and punishments for learning and classroom or behavior management (note: “logical consequences”, “choice” and “Abuse it – Lose it” methods are better for creative and ADD kids and are described under my section on discipline)
  • maintenance of climate that encourages conformity and convergent thinking (vs. divergent thinking)
  • insensitivity to individual differences
  • emphasis on restricted categorical labeling, and
  • deemphasis of environmental, cultural, and social/emotional variables.

All information on this page was taken from “Square Pegs in Round Holes – These Kids Don’t Fit: High Ability Students With Behavioral Problems” by Brian D. Reid, Ph.D. and Michele D. McGuire, Ph.D., The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, Sept. 1995.  Following are some quotes:

“In the context of identification issues, a similarly troubling matter is the general increase in the identification of students with ADHD.  Despite controversy regarding the ‘true’ definition of ADHD (e.g., clinical vs. school-based rationales), hyperactivity has become one of the most prevalent reasons for children to be referred for comprehensive evaluations or clinical interventions … students who have high activity levels, but engage in socially acceptable behaviors and achieve academically, typically are not referred.  Such students tend to be characterized as ‘energetic, enthusiastic, hard working, or brilliant’ rather than as hyperactive.  In contrast, the student who displays negative, socially unacceptable behaviors in addition to high levels of activity is more likely to be considered ADHD…There is evidence that as high as 45% of identified gifted children with IQ scores above 130 also have grade point averages that are lower than average.

“Many children and youth who are gifted [have a need to] behave in a self-sufficient, nonconformist, and independent manner.  However, if one accepts the premise that schools largely focus on promoting uniformity and compliance, and that curricula lean toward the irrelevant, there is a predictable level of dissonance to be expected among school settings and personnel and the independent, challenging child.”