David Bridges


Sensory-processing sensitivity, or neurosensitivity, is a biologically-based personality dimension with implications for personality, creativity and cognition. This thesis focuses on sensitivity and its cognitive implications using recent state-of-the-art sensitivity and creativity assessments with an aim to identify objective cognitive tests of sensitivity that can supplement self-report measures, whilst providing insight into the brain basis for creativity. In Chapter 1, we review literature on creativity and sensitivity. Chapter 2 presents new evidence that positive-affect-related dimensions of sensitivity benefit creativity independently and/or interactively with Big-Five openness. Factor analysis in Chapter 3 provides important evidence that multiple dimensions of sensitivity are distinct from Big-Five personality traits. Chapter 4 and 5 explore sensitivity-related attention components in relation to endogenous and exogenous attention tasks, revealing that positive-affect-related sensitivity is characterized by differences in exogenous inhibition-of-return, and defocused, disinhibited attention states that facilitate creative potential. Chapter 6 shows sensitivity has positive implications for learning and memory processes, demonstrating that neurosensitivity affects neuroplasticity favourably. Chapter 7 explores how individual differences in unconscious cognitive mechanisms of latent inhibition (LI) may underlie higher creative potential and achievement in sensitive, open creators, as theory and evidence suggest low LI in high sensitivity and creative achievement. No evidence was found to support the hypothesis that LI differs in sensitivity, or underlies the sensitive creator. All findings are interpreted in light of a new sensitivity framework that is consistent with cognitive disinhibition and hemispheric asymmetry hypotheses of creativity and models of the creative process suggesting an important role for conscious and unconscious cognition.

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