Psychotic and autistic traits among magicians and their relationship with creative beliefs

Gil Greengross, Paul J. Silvia, Sara J. Crasson

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Abstract

Background
There is a common perception that creativity is associated with psychopathology. Previous studies have shown that members of creative groups such as comedians, artists and scientists scores higher than the norm on psychotic traits, and scientists in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields score highly on autistic traits.

Aims
To test whether magicians, a creative group that has not been studied before, also score highly on psychopathological traits and autism, and to test the associations of creative self-efficacy and creative identity with schizotypal and autistic traits among magicians.

Method
A sample of 195 magicians and 233 people from the general population completed measures of schizotypal traits (Oxford–Liverpool Inventory of Feelings and Experiences) and autism (Abridged Version of the Autism-Spectrum Quotient), as well as the Short Scale of Creative Self. Magicians were also compared with other creative groups with respect to schizotypal traits, based on previously published data.

Results
Magicians scored lower than the general population sample on three of the four schizophrenia measures (cognitive disorganisation, introvertive anhedonia and impulsive nonconformity) but did not differ with respect to unusual experiences or autism scores. Magicians scored higher on creative self-efficacy and creative personal identity than the general sample. Magicians’ scores on schizotypal traits were largely lower than those of other creative groups. Originality of magic was positively correlated with unusual experiences (r = 0.208), creative self-efficacy (r = 0.251) and creative identity (r = 0.362).

Conclusions
This is the first study to show a creative group with lower scores than norms on psychotic traits. The results highlight the unique characteristics of magicians and the possible myriad associations between creativity and mental disorders among creative groups.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere214
Number of pages6
JournalBJPsych Open
Volume9
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2023

Keywords

  • Magic
  • Creativity
  • Schizophrenia
  • Autism
  • Psychoticism
  • Mental illness
  • psychoticism
  • schizophrenia
  • creativity
  • autism

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