The wiley handbook_of_genius

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The wiley handbook_of_genius

  1. 1. Edited by Dean Keith Simonton THE WILEY HANDBOOK OF Genius
  2. 2. The Wiley Handbook of Genius
  3. 3. The Wiley Handbook of Genius Edited by Dean Keith Simonton
  4. 4. This edition first published 2014 © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd Registered Office John Wiley & Sons Ltd, The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 8SQ, UK Editorial Offices 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148-5020, USA 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford, OX4 2DQ, UK The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 8SQ, UK For details of our global editorial offices, for customer services, and for information about how to apply for permission to reuse the copyright material in this book please see our website at www.wiley.com/wiley-blackwell. The right of Dean Keith Simonton to be identified as the author of the editorial material in this work has been asserted in accordance with the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, except as permitted by the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, without the prior permission of the publisher. Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears in print may not be available in electronic books. Designations used by companies to distinguish their products are often claimed as trademarks. All brand names and product names used in this book are trade names, service marks, trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. The publisher is not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in this book. Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: While the publisher and authors have used their best efforts in preparing this book, they make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. It is sold on the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering professional services and neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for damages arising herefrom. If professional advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data The Wiley handbook of genius / edited by Dean Keith Simonton. pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-118-36740-7 (cloth) 1. Genius. 2. Genius–Handbooks, manuals, etc. I. Simonton, Dean Keith. II. Title: Handbook of genius. BF412.W48 2014 153.9′8–dc23 2014000616 A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Cover image: Top row, l-r: Einstein (©AF archive / Alamy ); Marie Curie (© Album / Superstock); Mozart (©FineArt / Alamy ). Bottom row, l-r: Frida Kahlo ( Lucas Vallecillos / age fotostock / SuperStock); Bobby Fischer (©INTERFOTO / Alamy ); Jimi Hendrix (©AF archive / Alamy ). Set in 10/12pt Galliard by Aptara Inc., New Delhi, India 1 2014
  5. 5. Contents List of Contributors ix Preface xvii Part I Perspectives 1 1 The Genius in History: Historiographic Explorations 3 Laura C. Ball 2 The Psychobiography of Genius 20 William Todd Schultz 3 Interviewing Highly Eminent Creators 33 Jeanne Nakamura and Jeff Fajans 4 Psychometric Studies of Scientific Talent and Eminence 62 Gregory J. Feist 5 Historiometric Studies of Genius 87 Dean Keith Simonton Part II Processes 107 6 The Neuroscience of Creative Genius 109 Nancy C. Andreasen and Kanchna Ramchandran 7 Artistic Genius and Creative Cognition 120 Paul Thagard 8 Case Studies of Genius: Ordinary Thinking, Extraordinary Outcomes 139 Robert W. Weisberg 9 Virtual Genius 166 David Cope
  6. 6. vi Contents Part III Attributes 183 10 Varieties of Genius 185 Robert J. Sternberg and Stacey L. Bridges 11 Cognitive Disinhibition, Creativity, and Psychopathology 198 Shelley H. Carson 12 Openness to Experience 222 Robert R. McCrae and David M. Greenberg 13 Political and Military Geniuses: Psychological Profiles and Responses to Stress 244 Peter Suedfeld Part IV Origins 267 14 Genetics of Intellectual and Personality Traits Associated with Creative Genius: Could Geniuses Be Cosmobian Dragon Kings? 269 Wendy Johnson and Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr. 15 Child Prodigies and Adult Genius: A Weak Link 297 Ellen Winner 16 Creative Genius: A View from the Expert-Performance Approach 321 K. Anders Ericsson 17 Cognitive Processes and Development of Chess Genius: An Integrative Approach 350 Guillermo Campitelli, Fernand Gobet, and Merim Bilali´c 18 Diversifying Experiences in the Development of Genius and their Impact on Creative Cognition 375 Rodica Ioana Damian and Dean Keith Simonton Part V Trajectories 395 19 The Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth at Maturity: Insights into Elements of Genius 397 Harrison J. Kell and David Lubinski 20 Age and Scientific Genius 422 Benjamin F. Jones, E.J. Reedy, and Bruce A. Weinberg 21 Musical Creativity over the Lifespan 451 Aaron Kozbelt 22 Literary Geniuses: Their Life, Work, and Death 473 Alexander S. McKay and James C. Kaufman 23 Lifetime Biopsychosocial Trajectories of the Terman Gifted Children: Health, Well-Being, and Longevity 488 Katherine A. Duggan and Howard S. Friedman
  7. 7. Contents vii Part VI Contexts 509 24 Evaluating Excellence in the Arts 511 Victor Ginsburgh and Sheila Weyers 25 The Systems Model of Creativity and Its Applications 533 Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi 26 Openness to Scientific Innovation 546 Frank J. Sulloway 27 Prominent Modern Artists: Determinants of Creativity 564 Christiane Hellmanzik 28 Genius in World Civilization 586 Charles Murray Part VII Prospects 609 29 Does Genius Science Have a Future History? 611 Dean Keith Simonton Appendix 619 Index 629 Color plate section is between pages 170 and 171
  8. 8. List of Contributors Nancy C. Andreasen MD Ph.D. is the Andrew H. Woods Chair of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, USA. She is a recipient of the President’s National Medal of Science, awarded in part for her work on pioneering neuroimaging technologies and using them to study processes such as memory and creativity. Laura C. Ball MA is a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at York University, Canada and is the Knowledge Translation and Implementation Coordinator at Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care, Canada. She is interested in technologies of the self, feminist theory, historiography, and integrated knowledge translation. Her recent publications in this area include an article in History of Psychology titled “Genius without the ‘Great Man’: New Possibilities for the Historian of Psychology.” Merim Bilali´c is a professor in the Department of General Psychology and Cognitive Science at Alpen Adria University Klagenfurt, Austria. He received his D.Phil. from Oxford University, UK in 2006. He is interested in cognitive and neural mechanisms in expertise, and his work on the Einstellung effect won the British Psychological Society’s Award for the Outstanding Doctoral Research Contribution to Psychology in 2008. He has published on cognitive aspects of expertise in Cognitive Psychology and Cognition, on their neural implementation in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General and Journal of Neuroscience, and on individual differences in Intelligence and Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr. earned his Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Califor- nia, Berkeley, USA. He spent most of his career at the University of Minnesota, Min- neapolis, USA, where he is professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology. His research and teaching career spans social psychology, industrial/organizational psy- chology, individual differences, evolutionary psychology, and behavior genetics. His current research interests are in the domains of social attitudes, personality, and values. Stacey L. Bridges is an instructor at East Central University in Oklahoma City, USA. Guillermo Campitelli is a senior lecturer at Edith Cowan University, Australia. He investigates individual differences in performance, judgments, and decisions with the ultimate goal of advancing knowledge to help individuals, organizations, and
  9. 9. x List of Contributors societies maximize performance, improve the quality of judgments, and make ratio- nal and adaptive decisions. His recent article “Deliberate Practice: Necessary but not sufficient,” published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, exemplifies his extensive research in chess. expertise. Shelley H. Carson Ph.D. is an associate of the Department of Psychology and lec- turer in extension at Harvard University, USA where she conducts research and teaches courses on creativity, abnormal psychology, and resilience. Her work on creativity has been published in national and international peer-reviewed science journals and has been highlighted in national media, including the Discovery Channel, CNN, and National Public Radio. She is also author of the award-winning book Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life and co-author of Almost Depressed: Is My or My Loved One’s Unhappiness a Problem? David Cope is currently Dickerson Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Santa Cruz, USA. He is primarily known for his work in computer composition in musical styles and is the creator of Experiments in Musical Intelligence. His own music includes nine symphonies, four operas, many symphonic poems, and chamber music of various kinds. These works have been performed extensively around the world. His books include New Directions in Music (7th ed.), Techniques of the Contempo- rary Composer, Computers and Musical Style, Experiments in Musical Intelligence, The Algorithmic Composer, Virtual Music, and Computer Models of Musical Creativity. He is also published four novels (Death of Karlin Mulrey, Not by Death Alone, Death by Proxy, and Mind Over Death), two books of short stories (Of Blood and Tears and My Gun is Loaded), and a book of 2,000 haiku called Comes the Fiery Night. His algorith- mic art has been exhibited in several venues as well. He currently lives with his wife in Santa Cruz, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was born in Fiume, Italy (now Rijeka, Croatia), to Hungar- ian parents. He left Italy in 1956 to study in the United States. He received a Ph.D. in human development from the University of Chicago, USA in 1965 and started teach- ing at a nearby college. During this time, he developed the basic model of the flow experience. In 1970 Mihaly returned to the University of Chicago, where he became chair of the Department of Psychology. In 1999 he accepted an offer to teach at the Claremont Graduate University in California, USA where he started the first doctoral program in positive psychology. Rodica Ioana Damian earned her Ph.D. in social-personality psychology from the University of California, Davis, USA in 2013. She is currently a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA working with Dr Brent Roberts. Her research program is aimed at understanding the role of envi- ronmental antecedents on personality development and downstream consequences for achievement and creativity. In recognition of her research, Dr Damian has been awarded the Provost’s Dissertation Year Fellowship and the Social Sciences Dean’s Doctoral Fellowship for Excellence Award by the University of California, Davis, USA and the Frank X. Barron Award by the Society for the Psychology of Aesthetics, Cre- ativity, and the Arts, Division 10 of the American Psychological Association. Katherine A. Duggan is a graduate student at the University of California, Riverside, USA. She is interested in the relationships between personality, sleep, and health across
  10. 10. List of Contributors xi the lifespan. A Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellowship Award recipient, Duggan has uncovered some of the first evidence for lifespan associations between sleep and health. K. Anders Ericsson is Conradi Eminent Scholar at Florida State University, USA. He studies expert performance and how expert performers attain their superior per- formance by acquiring complex cognitive mechanisms through extended deliberate practice. He has edited the Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance and The Development of Professional Expertise. Jeff Fajans MA is a doctoral student in positive organizational psychology at Clare- mont Graduate University, USA. His research focuses on creativity, innovation, and how mobile technologies can be leveraged as positive developmental interventions to achieve enhanced outcomes such as well-being, creative performance, and learning. Gregory J. Feist is currently associate professor of psychology in personality at San Jos´e State University, USA and director of the MA program in research and exper- imental psychology. He has also taught at the College of William & Mary and the University of California at Davis. He received his Ph.D. in 1991 from the University of California at Berkeley and his undergraduate degree in 1985 from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He is widely published in the psychology of creativity, the psychology of science, and the development of scientific talent. One major focus of his work is establishing the psychology of science as a healthy and independent study of science, along the lines of the history, philosophy, and sociology of science. His major efforts toward this end are publishing a book entitled Psychology of Science and the Origins of the Scientific Mind, which was awarded the 2007 William James Book Prize by the Division of General Psychology, American Psychological Association (APA); being the founding president of the newly formed “International Society for the Psy- chology of Science and Technology”; and being the founding editor-in-chief of a new peer-reviewed journal, Journal of Psychology of Science & Technology. Howard S. Friedman is distinguished professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, USA. He has received the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award from the Association for Psychological Science, a career award for applied research. His latest book is The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study, which summarizes his 20-year scientific study of the pathways to health and long life. This book won first place in the Well- ness category in the Books for A Better Life awards competition. Friedman has also received many teaching awards, including most recently the national Elizabeth Hur- lock Beckman Award, for “inspiring students to make a difference in the community.” http://www.psych.ucr.edu/faculty/friedman/index.html Victor Ginsburgh, is honorary professor of economics at ECARES, Universit´e libre de Bruxellles, Belgium and is also affiliated to CORE, Universit´e catholique de Lou- vain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. He has written and edited many books and is the author of over 180 papers in applied and theoretical economics, including industrial organization and general equilibrium analysis. His recent work includes economics of the arts, wines, and languages; he has published over 70 papers on these topics, some of which appeared in American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, Games and Economic Behavior, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Economic Journal, Journal of the European Economic Association, Empirical Studies of the Arts, and the Journal of
  11. 11. xii List of Contributors Cultural Economics. He is coeditor (with David Throsby) of the two volumes of the Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture. Fernand Gobet is professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Liverpool, UK. His main research interest is the psychology of expertise and talent, which he has studied in numerous domains including board games, physics, computer program- ming, music, sport, business, language acquisition, nursing, and physiotherapy. His research combines experimental methods with computational modelling. He has coau- thored six books, including Psychologie du Talent et de l’Expertise and Foundations of Cognitive Psychology. David M. Greenberg is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Cambridge, UK where he researches individual differences in musical engagement, including the emotional, cognitive, and social implications of strong musical experiences. Christiane Hellmanzik is assistant professor of economics at the University of Hamburg, Germany. Her research focuses on applied microeconomics, in particu- lar agglomeration, peer effects, “superstars,” and migration. She holds a BSc in eco- nomics from the University of Maastricht, an MA in economics from University Col- lege Dublin, and a Ph.D. in economics from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. Wendy Johnson graduated in mathematics from Occidental College in Los Ange- les, USA. She spent many years as a consulting casualty actuary in the San Francisco Bay Area before entering the doctoral program in psychology at the University of Minnesota, USA, completing her degree in 2005. Her research focuses on individ- ual differences in mental abilities, personality, academic achievement, and later-life health, emphasizing transactions between genetic and environmental influences. She is currently in the Department of Psychology and Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, UK. Benjamin F. Jones is an associate professor at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, USA, where he also directs the Kellogg Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, and is a research associate of the National Bureau of Eco- nomic Research. His research focuses largely on innovation and creativity, with recent work investigating the role of teamwork in innovation and the relationship between age and invention. He also studies global economic development, including the roles of education, climate, and national leadership in explaining the wealth and poverty of nations. His research has appeared in journals such as Science, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the Quarterly Journal of Economics and has been profiled in media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, and The New Yorker. James C. Kaufman is a professor of educational psychology at the University of Con- necticut, USA. He is the author or editor of 25 books either published or in press, including Creativity 101 and is the editor of the APA journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture and the current president of APA’s Division 10 (Psychology of Aes- thetics, Creativity, and the Arts). Harrison J. Kell is a postdoctoral fellow at the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth at Vanderbilt University, USA. He received his Ph.D. in psychology from Rice
  12. 12. List of Contributors xiii University, USA in 2011. He is interested in how individual differences predict human performance, broadly construed, and how basic knowledge about human psycholog- ical diversity can be better utilized in the developmental sciences, in applied settings, and for developing policy. His research interests in human potential are illustrated in two recent articles in Psychological Science: “Who Rises to the Top? Early Indicators” and “Creativity and Technical Innovation: Spatial Ability’s Unique Role.” The former underscores the importance of assessing the full range of human potential for under- standing creativity and the latter highlights neglected talent currently being missed. Aaron Kozbelt is professor of psychology at Brooklyn College, USA and The Grad- uate Center of the City University of New York, USA. His research foci lie at the intersection of creativity and cognition in the arts, particularly on the nature of the creative process in visual art, archival analyses of lifespan creativity trajectories and self-evaluation in classical composers, and the psychological basis of skilled artistic drawing. He is the author of over 60 journal articles and book chapters on these and other topics and serves on several editorial boards. He has been the recipient of the American Psychological Association Division 10 Daniel Berlyne Award for Creativity Research and the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten Award for Creativity Research and his research has been funded by the National Science Foundation. David Lubinski is professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University, USA and co- director of the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth, a planned 50-year longi- tudinal study of over 5,000 intellectually talented participants begun in 1971. His research interests are in modeling the development of exceptional intellectual talent over the life span (with cognitive, affective, and conative assessments) and uncovering factors that enhance and attenuate for this population learning and work accomplish- ments as well as creativity. He is president of the International Society for Intelli- gence Research (2013) and a trustee for the Society for Multivariate Experimental Psychology, and he has served as associate editor for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. In 1996, he received the APA’s Early Career Award (psychomet- rics/applied individual differences) and the George A. Millar Outstanding Article in General Psychology Award; in 2006, he received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the National Association for Gifted Children. Robert R. McCrae is retired from the National Institute on Aging, where he con- ducted research on personality structure, development, and assessment. He is coau- thor (with Paul T. Costa, Jr.) of Personality in Adulthood: A Five-Factor Theory Per- spective. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Alexander S. McKay is a graduate student in experimental psychology at Califor- nia State University at San Bernardino, USA. His research interests include creativity, personality, and ethics. Charles Murray is the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, USA. His books include Losing Ground, The Bell Curve (with Richard J. Herrnstein), Human Accomplishment, and Coming Apart. Jeanne Nakamura is associate professor of psychology, Claremont Graduate Univer- sity, USA, where she codirects the positive psychology program and the Quality of Life
  13. 13. xiv List of Contributors Research Center. Her BA and Ph.D. were received from the University of Chicago, USA. She studies positive functioning in a lifespan-developmental context, includ- ing engagement and creativity, mentoring and good work, and aging well. She is the coauthor of Good Mentoring and Creativity and Development and coeditor of Applied Positive Psychology. Kanchna Ramchandran Ph.D. is a post-doctoral fellow at the Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, USA and an expert in neuroeconomics. E.J. Reedy is a Ph.D. student in managerial economics at Northwestern Univer- sity, USA and a Research Fellow at the Kauffman Foundation. He has been signif- icantly involved in the coordination of the Kauffman Foundation’s entrepreneurship and innovation data-related initiatives, including serving as a principal investigator with the Kauffman Firm Survey. His research has focused on business dynamics, high- growth entrepreneurship, and the intersections of great scientific and entrepreneurial achievement. Prior to joining the Kauffman Foundation, Reedy was a senior analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and had extensive experience in non-profit management. He has been a consultant to the National Science Foundation and pub- lished in journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences and been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and elsewhere in the international media. William Todd Schultz is a professor of psychology at Pacific University in Oregon, USA. In 2005 he edited the groundbreaking Handbook of Psychobiography, and he now curates the Inner Lives series. He is the author of three books: Tiny Terror: Why Truman Capote Almost Wrote Answered Prayers, An Emergency in Slow Motion: The Inner Life of Diane Arbus, and Torment Saint: The Life of Elliott Smith. Schultz lives in Portland, Oregon. Dean Keith Simonton earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University, USA and is cur- rently Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis, USA. His more than 460 publications (including a dozen books) concentrate on genius, creativity, leadership, talent, and aesthetics. His honors include the William James Book Award, the Sir Francis Galton Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Study of Creativity, the Rudolf Arnheim Award for Outstanding Contributions to Psychology and the Arts, the Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Media Psy- chology Award, the George A. Miller Outstanding Article Award, the Theoretical Innovation Prize in Personality and Social Psychology, the E. Paul Torrance Award for Creativity from the National Association for Gifted Children, three Mensa Awards for Excellence in Research, and the Joseph B. Gittler Award for “the most scholarly contribution to the philosophical foundation of psychological knowledge” from the American Psychological Foundation. Robert J. Sternberg is professor of human development at Cornell University, USA. Peter Suedfeld was born in Hungary. Shortly after the end of World War II his father and he immigrated to the United States, where he performed his military service and completed his education (Ph.D., Princeton University, 1963). After teaching at several US institutions, he moved to the University of British Columbia, Vancou- ver, Canada as head of the Department of Psychology, and later served as dean of
  14. 14. List of Contributors xv graduate studies. Now emeritus, he continues his research, which focuses on how peo- ple adapt during and after challenging experiences such as experimental sensory depri- vation, spaceflight, polar deployment, decision-making under high stress, and ethnic persecution. Frank J. Sulloway is an adjunct professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. The recipient of a MacArthur Award (1984– 1989), he has focused his research on personality development and family dynamics, especially as they relate to creative achievement. He has also conducted research in evolutionary psychology, on the evolution of Darwin’s finches (including reproduc- tive success, anti-predator responses, and adaptive divergence), and in the history of science (Darwin, Freud, and revolutionary innovations). Paul Thagard is professor of philosophy and director of the cognitive science program at the University of Waterloo, Canada. His many books include The Brain and the Meaning of Life and The Cognitive Science of Science. Bruce A. Weinberg is professor of economics at the Ohio State University, USA and research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn, Germany. His work on science and innovation studies how creativity varies over the life cycle and how an individual’s own creativity is affected by the presence of other important innovators. He has also studied migration of innova- tors, trends in innovative competitiveness across countries, and the economic impacts of innovation. His research has been supported by the Federal Reserve, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Templeton Founda- tion and has been published in journals including the American Economic Review, the Journal of Political Economy, the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sci- ences, and Science. He has advised policy makers at a variety of levels and has received extensive international media coverage. Robert W. Weisberg is professor of psychology and director of graduate training at Temple University, USA. His research focuses on the cognitive processes underlying creative thinking. He has published numerous books and papers presenting case stud- ies of creative thinking at the highest levels as well as experimental investigations of creative thinking in the laboratory. Sheila Weyers of the Universit´e catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium has a degree in philosophy and is interested in aesthetics and its relations with art history. She has published on movies, including remakes, and on the art historian de Piles; she is now working on canons. Her papers appeared in Artibus et Historiae, the Journal of Cultural Economics, Annales d’Histoire de l’Art et d’Arch´eologie, Poetics and Empirical Studies in the Arts. Ellen Winner is professor and chair of psychology at Boston College, USA and senior research associate at Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, USA. She directs the Arts and Mind Lab, which focuses on cognition in the arts in typical and gifted children. She is the author of over 100 articles and four books: Invented Worlds: The Psychology of the Arts, The Point of Words: Children’s Understanding of Metaphor and Irony, Gifted Children: Myths and Realities (translated into six languages and win- ner of the Alpha Sigma Nu National Jesuit Book Award in Science), and is coauthor
  15. 15. xvi List of Contributors of Studio Thinking 2: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education. She served as pres- ident of APA’s Division 10, Psychology and the Arts, in 1995–1996, and in 2000 received the Rudolf Arnheim Award for Outstanding Research by a Senior Scholar in Psychology and the Arts from Division 10. She is a Fellow of the American Psy- chological Association (Division 10) and of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics.
  16. 16. Preface Genius is certainly not an esoteric or obscure topic. Its broad interest can be easily demonstrated using the now-standard “Google test.” Just google the word and see how many websites pop up. The last time I did so, about 330,000,000 sites emerged. To be sure, few of these can be considered scientific treatments of the subject. On the contrary, the term is often used for its marketing potential. One of my favorite T-shirts reads “Guinness, Gaelic for Genius.” Hence, a better reflection of its status might be obtained using Google Scholar, in which case we get about 1,040,000 results – a still impressive figure. It is also gratifying to find a few of my own contributions to the subject show up in the output. After all, I have been studying genius ever since I started working on my doctoral dissertation over 40 years ago! Admittedly, I did not use “genius” in the title of every publication that emerged since then. Because genius assumes many different forms, it is often possible to use a more specific term as the subject of research – like greatness, eminence, achievement, creativity, talent, or leadership. Indeed, over the past four decades, I have studied the phenomenon as it appears in science and technology, philosophy, painting and sculpture, poetry and drama, music, opera, cinema, politics, and even war – from scientific to military genius and (almost) everything between. Among the works listed on the initial page of the Google Scholar output is the first classic contribution to the subject: Galton’s (1869) Hereditary Genius. Subse- quent book-length treatments with “genius” somewhere in the main title include Lombroso’s (1891) The Man of Genius, Ellis’s (1904) A Study of British Genius, Cox’s (1926) The Early Mental Traits of Three Hundred Geniuses, Bowerman’s (1947) Studies in Genius, Becker’s (1978) The Mad Genius Controversy, Ehrenwald’s (1984) The Anatomy of Genius, Hershman and Lieb’s (1988) The Key to Genius, Eysenck’s (1995) Genius, Howe’s (1999) Genius Explained, my own 1999 Origins of Genius (Simonton, 1999), Miller’s (2000) Insights of Genius, Galenson’s (2005) Old Mas- ters and Young Geniuses, Sawyer’s (2007) Group Genius, and Ness’s (2013) Genius Unmasked. To this list might be added Murray’s (1989) edited volume on Genius: A History of the Idea. Hence, genius has been a popular subject of scholarly inquiry for well over a century. Yet something is strikingly missing in all of the above titles: the word “handbook.” Indeed, a Handbook of Genius has never been published, at least not in any of the prin- cipal languages of science. This omission can be verified by conducting yet another
  17. 17. xviii Preface Google search, which now elicits nothing – no edited volume containing authorita- tive chapters covering key aspects of the phenomenon. What makes this absence even more astonishing is the obvious abundance of handbooks concerning closely related topics, such as creativity, leadership, talent, and giftedness. As an example, four dif- ferent creativity handbooks were published between 1989 and 2010, or about two per decade. Any “handbook of genius” thus remains conspicuously absent from the bookshelves. Consequently, when Andrew Peart at Wiley Blackwell asked me to consider editing just such a handbook, I jumped at the chance. Opportunity does not knock that often. Because I had already written chapters for previous Wiley Blackwell handbooks, I had prior experience working with them. More importantly, this new project seemed an ideal way to culminate my own research by bringing it together with the best work conducted by my contemporaries. Furthermore, the fact that such a handbook was long overdue was proven by how easy it was to recruit expert contributors. The first- pass acceptance rate for my invitations was nearly perfect! The outcome is this volume containing substantially more than two dozen chapters. These chapters have been organized into seven parts. Part I deals with the various perspectives on genius. After a treatment of the role of genius in history – both as a discipline and as a phenomenon – the next four chap- ters discuss the main scientific methods for studying genius, namely, psychobiogra- phy, face-to-face interview, psychometric measurement, and historiometric analysis. Because I wrote the last chapter, I decided to use it as a transition linking the first four chapters with virtually all of the chapters that follow. It may be noted that one major mainstream method is missing, namely laboratory experiments. For reasons too obvious to mention, it is extremely rare for world-acclaimed geniuses to volunteer to serve as experimental participants in some professor’s lab! Part II turns to the individual processes that underlie the works of geniuses. The mind–brain sciences have experienced a substantial growth in recent years, so it may not surprise anyone that the first chapter is devoted to the neuroscience of genius. The next two chapters concentrate on specific examples of creative genius in order to decipher the cognitive and related processes underlying their contributions. This part closes with a chapter that raises a fascinating question: If computer programs can simulate the musical creativity of recognized geniuses, such as J. S. Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Scott Joplin, does this indicate that genius is far more ordinary than people imagine? Readers probably do not need to be reminded that it was not long ago that a computer chess program beat Gary Kasparov, an undeniable chess genius (Hsu, 2002). Without a doubt, nothing mystical would be required. The foregoing conclusion might be interpreted as saying that geniuses are just like the rest of us. Yet this interpretation is wrong. Geniuses tend to feature some personal characteristics that make them identifiably different. This conclusion is established in the chapters making up Part III, which all concern the attributes of geniuses. Although genius is often associated with exceptional intelligence – and frequently defined as a superlative IQ – other individual-difference variables are involved as well (see also Simonton, 2011). At the same time, there is no such thing as a single generic type of genius. Instead, genius comes in different flavors depending on the domain of achievement. The obvious next question concerns the origins of genius, the central subject of Part IV. Although the issue about whether genius is born or made goes back centuries,
  18. 18. Preface xix Francis Galton (1874) was the first to formulate the question in scientific research. Not surprisingly, the chapters span the full range of treatments, from genetic factors to environmental influences. This discussion must necessarily include the critical relation between child prodigies and adulthood genius. Although prodigies are often loosely referred to as geniuses in the popular media, that designation may add more confusion than enlightenment. The last remark suggests the need to understand the trajectories of genius, the focus of the five chapters in Part V. Actually, these chapters form a kind of intellectual sand- wich. The middle three chapters all use historiometric methods to study the course of a creative career in three domains, namely, science, music, and literature. On the outside are chapters that report the results of the two most ambitious psychometric longitudinal studies ever conducted. Although the last two chapters use very different methods, they both introduce the important issue of life expectancies – the terminal point of the trajectory. Up to this point, genius has been treated as an entirely individualistic phenomenon. Yet as pointed out long ago, genius takes place in a larger sociocultural milieu (Candolle, 1873; Kroeber, 1944). This point is well demonstrated in the chapters in Part VI that in various ways treat contexts of genius. For example, some of the contrib- utors scrutinize the recognition process. Although people will sometimes speak of the “neglected genius,” from the standpoint of the social context, this expression becomes an oxymoron. Other contributors devote more attention to the factors that affect the emergence of genius that will earn the recognition not just of contemporaries but also of posterity. Part VII concludes the handbook with a single chapter dealing with prospects. Besides bringing everything together, here the editor endeavors to lay out the future history of genius science. Although highly speculative, it is hoped that these specula- tions will inspire research for another century or more. ∗∗∗ One final word: I wish to dedicate this handbook to the memory of a deceased senior colleague, namely, Robert S. Albert, who passed away in 2011. Although probably nobody knew until now, Bob played a major role in my career-long pursuit of genius as an important topic of scientific research. In 1975, the same year that I officially earned my Ph.D., Bob published an article on genius in the American Psychologist, the flagship journal of the American Psychological Association (Albert, 1975). This article provided some professional legitimacy to the question that has largely occu- pied me ever since. Moreover, not too long afterward, Bob edited an anthology on Genius and Eminence that reprinted some classic contributions to that topic (Albert, 1983). Because the volume included studies that are more recent as well, it amply demonstrated that genius was by no means an obsolete target for empirical inquiry. In less than a decade, this anthology came out in a new edition with some additions as well as subtractions (Albert, 1992). Imagine my gratification to discover that one of my very own publications was included among the additions (viz. Simonton, 1991). I had now been certified as contributing to the area I found so fascinating! Yet Bob did not stop here. Shortly after the second edition of Genius and Eminence, he convinced another publisher to put out a collection of my most important scientific journal arti- cles devoted to genius and creativity (Simonton, 1997). Besides personally selecting
  19. 19. xx Preface and organizing the dozen featured articles, Bob wrote a very fine preface. How many scholars receive this magnitude of encouragement only two decades into their careers? Hence, I seriously wonder whether the Handbook of Genius would ever have hap- pened had not my guardian angel appeared at key moments earlier in my career. In a sense, the handbook counts as the culmination of another’s career now unfortunately terminated. The Editor, 30 September, 2013 References Albert, R. S. (1975). Toward a behavioral definition of genius. American Psychologist, 30, 140– 151. Albert, R. S. (Ed.). (1983). Genius and eminence: The social psychology of creativity and excep- tional achievement. Oxford, UK: Pergamon Press. Albert, R. S. (Ed.). (1992). Genius and eminence (2nd ed.). Oxford, UK: Pergamon Press. Becker, G. (1978). The mad genius controversy: A study in the sociology of deviance. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications. Bowerman, W. G. (1947). Studies in genius. New York, NY: Philosophical Library. Candolle, A. de (1873). Histoire des sciences et des savants depuis deux si`ecles. Geneve: Georg. Cox, C. (1926). The early mental traits of three hundred geniuses. Stanford, CA: Stanford Uni- versity Press. Ehrenwald, J. (1984). The anatomy of genius: Split brains and global minds. New York, NY: Human Sciences. Ellis, H. (1904). A study of British genius. London, UK: Hurst & Blackett. Eysenck, H. J. (1995). Genius: The natural history of creativity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Galenson, D. W. (2005). Old masters and young geniuses: The two life cycles of artistic creativity. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Galton, F. (1869). Hereditary genius: An inquiry into its laws and consequences. London, UK: Macmillan. Galton, F. (1874). English men of science: Their nature and nurture. London, UK: Macmillan. Hershman, D. J., & Lieb, J. (1988). The key to genius: Manic-depression and the creative life. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books. Howe, M. J. A. (1999). Genius explained. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Hsu, F. (2002). Behind Deep Blue: Building the computer that defeated the world chess champion. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Kroeber, A. L. (1944). Configurations of culture growth. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Lombroso, C. (1891). The man of genius. London, UK: Scott. Miller, A. I. (2000). Insights of genius: Imagery and creativity in science and art. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Murray, P. (Ed.). (1989). Genius: The history of an idea. Oxford, UK: Blackwell. Ness, R. B. (2013) Genius unmasked. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Sawyer, R. K. (2007). Group genius: The creative power of collaboration. New York, NY: Basic Books. Simonton, D. K. (1991). Personality correlates of exceptional personal influence: A note on Thorndike’s (1950) creators and leaders. Creativity Research Journal, 4, 67–78.
  20. 20. Preface xxi Simonton, D. K. (1997). Genius and creativity: Selected papers. Greenwich, CT: Ablex. Simonton, D. K. (1999). Origins of genius: Darwinian perspectives on creativity. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Simonton, D. K. (2011). Exceptional talent and genius. In T. Chamorro-Premuzic, A. Furn- ham, & S. Stumm (Eds.), Handbook of individual differences (pp. 635–655). New York, NY: Wiley Blackwell.
  21. 21. Part I Perspectives
  22. 22. 1 The Genius in History Historiographic Explorations Laura C. Ball The History of the world is but the Biography of great men. (Carlyle, 1841, p. 34) Geniuses throughout history have fascinated academic and pop-culture authors alike. We consume autobiographies, biographies, films, histories, and academic theories of the outliers, the heroes, the Great Men, the geniuses. They are historical celebrities. We are captivated by them, their lives, and their work, but also their stories provide readers with a source of affiliation and inspiration. Yet, despite the attention given to their seemingly inevitable greatness, these celebratory histories tell us little about why they are considered to be great. In this chapter, I explore the kinds of geniuses who have captured our attention over time, the ways in which they have been depicted, and the methods used to tell their stories. First, I outline who have been labeled as geniuses, and how these “great men” have been identified. As most historiography of genius flows from Thomas Carlyle’s (1841) classic text On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History, his distinction between “heroes” and “geniuses” will be discussed specifically. Particular attention will also be paid to how psychologists entered the dialogue and their contributions to the narrative. Next, I review the different historiographic and psy- chological methods employed to study the life stories and achievements of identified geniuses. Finally, I question what qualities, characteristics, and events are privileged by authors using each of these historical methods, and therefore how they reveal the genius in history. The Relationship between History and Genius Thomas Carlyle’s (1841) On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History is a classic text on historiography, which is now seen by historians as representative of an outdated form of historical argumentation and analysis. Carlylian – or Great Man – history is gendered, celebratory, whiggish, and presentist. Carlyle expressly believed that history is – and should be – an exercise in hero-worship. The first lecture in the text, “The Hero as Divinity,” encapsulates his perspective on historical subjects. To begin the lecture, Carlyle says: The Wiley Handbook of Genius, First Edition. Edited by Dean Keith Simonton. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
  23. 23. 4 Laura C. Ball We have undertaken to discourse here for a little on Great Men, their manner of appear- ance in our world’s business, how they have shaped themselves in the world’s history, what ideas men formed of them, what work they did; – on Heroes, namely and on their reception and performance; what I call Hero-worship and the Heroic in human affairs. (1841, p. 3) To current historians and scholars interested in genius, Carlyle’s perspective seems foreign. He describes the genius and the hero as “divine” and “God-inspired.” Yet, while this perspective is certainly out of step with current historical and psychological sensibilities, it did not arise in a vacuum. To further explore how the “Great Man” came to enter the world of historiography (historical methods), we must first examine the etymology of the word “genius.” From a historical perspective, the term “genius” is problematic: it has had a long history of use, and has acquired multiple meanings over time, each describing vastly different phenomena. It is not uncommon to see genius referring to eminence (e.g., Galton, 1865, 1869/1892), giftedness (e.g., Terman, 1916, 1925), or the character or zeitgeist of a time period or geographical region (e.g., Alaya, 1977). The first known instance of the term genius being used is during the Roman Empire, where it referred to a male spiritual protector or guardian spirit (Murray, 1989; Simonton, 2009a). Typically, the protection offered by a genius was applied to indi- viduals, families, and physical spaces. Every person, family, city, body of water, or other important physical structure had its own genius. In addition, a genius could also refer to the character of a society, and the “spirit of the times” or zeitgeist. Over time, genius began to be more intimately connected with individuals, and ultimately came to bear directly upon their personalities. However, it was not until the Enlightenment when the connotations of the word took on its present implications: genius referring to the superior or unique abilities of an individual person (Albert, 1969; Murray 1989; Simonton, 2009a). During the Enlightenment a striking and fundamental change occurs in the meaning of the word: up till this time, genius as personal, protective spirit had been something every man possessed, now genius as an extraordinary creative power becomes the prerogative of a highly selected and priv- ileged few. (Murray, 1989, p. 3) However, despite this shift, the older connotations had not yet faded away. Samuel Johnson’s (1755) A Dictionary of the English Language reflects this transition, where he provides the following definitions of genius: (1) the protecting or ruling power of men, places, or things; (2) a man endowed with superior faculties; (3) mental power or faculties; (4) disposition of nature by which any one is qualified for some peculiar employment; and (5) nature, disposition. Clearly, only the first definition is consistent with the original Roman meaning. This is probably because another similar word had also been transported from Latin into the English language – ingenium. Ingenium referred to both a natural disposition and an innate ability. It is a qual- ity that cannot be developed through time and education, and only a rare few are lucky enough to be born with this kind of talent (Murray, 1989). When translated into English,1 ingenium became genius as well, therefore adding to the complex- ity of the original definition. As a result, the original spiritually linked term sur- vived and became entangled with the notion of natural ability (Derrida, 2003/2006;
  24. 24. The Genius in History: Historiographic Explorations 5 Murray, 1989). This way of thinking about genius remained popular throughout the 19th century. Looking at Carlyle’s work through this lens, his vision of history as hero-worship was completely commensurate with academic thinking at the time: talent was linked to divine inspiration. Even though the hero differed from the genius – the former seen in myth, religion, politics, and the military, and the latter in the arts and sciences – both were to be celebrated for their divine gifts. In this way, Carlyle was able to advance a unique perspective on history that was driven by the divinely inspired genius and the mythical hero, forming a historiographic approach that is expressly a celebration of these “Great Men.” History and the Psychology of Genius Two decades after Carlyle’s famous lectures on heroes and hero-worship, Darwin’s (1859) On the Origin of Species was published. Not only did this classic text come to revolutionize the study of biology, but also it transformed the then-burgeoning discipline of psychology. Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, was a devout follower2 of this new theory of evolution, and sought to apply it to his own interests. Galton was interested in what drives greatness, and he posited that “natural ability” – a trait that would be similar to intelligence – was at its root. However, as a working test for intelligence had yet to be developed, he turned to the next best thing: histor- ical records. Through kinship studies of eminent individuals, Galton believed that the hereditary nature of natural ability could be inferred (Galton, 1865, 1869/1892). In Hereditary Genius (1869/1892), Galton presented a kinship study of eminent judges, military commanders, scientists, poets, and oarsmen, among others, which did indeed show a correlation among family members: Where one individual in a family was considered to be an eminent contributor to society, successive generations of men often followed in a similar trajectory. He therefore concluded that ability is hereditary. Galton further expressed the belief that certain psychological factors, such as persis- tence, were essential to the expression of one’s natural ability; however, social and other environmental factors had little bearing. He said, “If a man is gifted with vast intellectual ability, eagerness to work, and power of working, I cannot comprehend how such a man should be repressed” (1869/1892, p. 39). In essence, geniuses are born, not made; nature, not nurture. Galton’s approach has been very influential in the psychology of genius literature. Besides defining one of the primary narratives – “genius” as a hereditary quality that can be identified, measured, and predicted, he also began to move the under- standing of genius as something “Other” and divine towards an understanding of genius as the product of positive evolutionary forces (particularly sexual selection). However, Galton’s work was also important because he was the first to use histor- ical data to argue his thesis. While Galton belongs to the Carlyle’s “Great Man” school, their approaches differed drastically. Carlyle’s approach used genius to shape the telling of history, while Galton’s used history to shape the science and psychology of genius. However, some authors at the time took issue with Carlyle’s and Galton’s main premises – that eminent individuals are worthy of study, and that they are the primary mechanism that drives society forward. Herbert Spencer, who is widely considered
  25. 25. 6 Laura C. Ball to be the cofounder of Social Darwinism along with Galton, did not ascribe to the “Great Man” school of thought. Spencer said: The genesis of societies by the action of great men may be comfortably believed so long as, resting in general notions, you do not ask for particulars. But now, if, dissatisfied with vagueness, we demand that our ideas shall be brought into focus and exactly defined, we discover the hypothesis to be utterly incoherent. (1878/1921, pp. 29–30) Spencer believed that the thesis inherent in Carlyle’s and Galton’s work was fatally flawed. The psychological characteristics, achievements, and life histories of eminent individuals do not provide a thorough explanation of discovery and social evolution. The historian, John Fiske – one of Spencer’s disciples – elaborated on this point: History is something more than biography. Without the least disrespect to the memories of the great statesmen of Greece and Rome, it may safely be said that one might learn all of Plutarch’s Lives by heart, and still have made very little progress toward comprehending the reasons why the Greek states were never able to form a coherent political aggregate, or why the establishment of despotism at Rome was involved in the conquest of the Mediterranean world. The true way to approach such historical problems as these is not to speculate about the personal characteristics of Lysander or C. Gracchus, but to consider the popular assemblies of the Greeks and Romans. (1881, p. 81) Therefore, in order to understand greatness, we need to go beyond Carlyle’s Great Man histories, and we also need to dispense with Galton’s inherited characteristics the- sis. The key to genius is not within the individual, but within society itself. As Spencer said, “Before he can re-make his society, his society must make him” (1878/1921, p. 31). From this perspective, genius is made, not born; nurture, rather than nature. In this way, the Spencerian school uses the existence of genius as a signpost to point to interesting political, social, and cultural trends. As in the Carlylian tradition, the genius shapes history, but instead of exploring individual life histories (as in the Carlylian tradition), or psychological characteristics (in the Galtonian tradition), genius is used to explore social histories. During this debate between Social Darwinists, a third perspective on the relation- ship between genius and history began to emerge in American psychology. James Mark Baldwin (1913/2001) argued for a midway point between the Galtonian and Spencerian positions. Building on evolutionary theory, genius could be thought of as a variation3 from the mean – the “average man.” While this premise is shared by Galton, Baldwin explicitly cautioned against understanding genius to be a product of variations in natural ability. Rather, genius should be thought of as the expression of good judgment and social fit. An individual may create works of art or scholarship, but if they have bad judgment and select the wrong ideas to bring to fruition, they will never be labeled as a genius – and depending on the nature of those ideas, they may even be labeled “mad” or “bad” instead. For example, Caligula may have become the Emperor of Rome, but he clearly selected the wrong ideas to bring to fruition. Historians depict him as a cruel tyrant, whose rule was ended by assassination. In the end, he is remembered as both mad and bad. On the other hand, if an individual were able to apply good judgment to the selection of ideas, then they may have a chance at
  26. 26. The Genius in History: Historiographic Explorations 7 becoming a genius. Of course, whether an idea is truly “good” is a matter of social fit, and they will only be remembered as a genius if society recognizes the value in their work. In this way, Baldwin’s work represents a midpoint between Galton’s psycholog- ical, nativist approach, and Spencer’s sociogenic approach; it straddles the nature and nurture positions. Baldwin’s work marks an interesting turn in the relationship between genius, his- tory, and psychology. First, where Baldwin’s work concerns the relationship between genius and history, “social fit” can be used to explain fluctuations in the use of “genius” as an appellation to describe a particular individual over time. For example, Anto- nio Salieri was a well-respected and widely sought-after composer in his time. He also taught many other great composers including Franz Schubert, Franz Liszt, and Ludwig van Beethoven. However, now his work is rarely considered to be of the caliber of his students’, and the label of genius is instead given to one of his contemporaries – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Second, where Baldwin’s work concerns the relationship between history and the psychology of genius, the focus on normal variation in ability continues to uphold the understanding that genius is not divine. Baldwin said, To know that the greatest men of earth are men who think as I do, but deeper, and see the real as I do, but clearer, who work the goal that I do, but faster, and serve humanity as I do, but better, – that may be an incitement to my humility, but it is also an inspiration in my life. (1913/2001, p. 177) Here, histories of genius serve Galton’s project in that they are a way to better under- stand human development and ability. Baldwin’s quote also hints at the role that stories such as these have in providing guidance, inspiration, and a sense of affiliation in oth- ers (see also Hong & Lin-Siegler, 2012; S¨oderqvist, 1996). This will be expanded on in greater detail below. And yet, despite the importance that Baldwin places on indi- vidual variation in ability and judgment, he simultaneously stresses the role of social fit as the mechanism for social evolution. Furthermore, the potential for talent that resides within the individual is the result of population-level variations, but that poten- tial can only be realized in the context of education and other positive environmental pressures (cf. organic selection, and the “Baldwin Effect”; Burman, in press; Wozniak, 2009). In other words, genius is both born and made. The relationship between genius, psychology, and history continues to be informed by the theories espoused by Carlyle, Galton, Spencer, and Baldwin. For example, in his contribution to the psychology of genius literature, Howard Gardner (1997) adopted the Carlylian “Great Man” approach in order to develop and illustrate his theory of extraordinariness. However, the Great Man style of historiography also informs notable histories of psychology, such as A History of Experimental Psychology (Boring, 1929), History of Psychology in Autobiography (Murchison, 1961), Great Psychologists (Watson, 1963), and Portraits of Pioneers in Psychology (Kimble & Wertheimer, 1998), among many others (see Ball, 2012). On the other hand, while Galton’s and Spencer’s views have little traction with modern psychologists, falling too far to either side of the nature versus nurture debate, they still frame discussions on the topic (see Simonton, 2009a). The moderate position held by Baldwin seems to adequately characterize the psychology of genius literature today. Admittedly, some do fall more on the side of
  27. 27. 8 Laura C. Ball nature (e.g., Simonton, 1999a, 2008), and some more on the side of nurture (e.g., Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-R¨omer, 1993; Howe, 1999). Yet each presents a slightly more nuanced and complex picture of how genius emerges. The Psychology of Genius: Theory Across History Given the complexity of the genius literature, it can be difficult to paint a complete picture of the philosophical and theoretical narratives that inform our understanding of the psychology of genius. The following is a system for understanding the liter- ature, which is based on three psychological and one statistical construct: (1) cre- ativity; (2) madness; (3) intelligence; and (4) eminence. Of course, this is an overly simplistic and imperfect categorization, as many contributors to the psychology of genius literature have blended interests (e.g., Andreasen, 1987, 2005; Eysenck, 1995; Jamison, 1989, 1993; J. C. Kaufman, 2001; S. B. Kaufman, Christopher & J. C. Kaufman, 2008). Therefore, for ease of explanation in this context, I have included their contributions in the category to which they seem to have awarded the most significance. The creative genius Creativity has had the longest tradition of research with respect to its relationship to genius, and is consequently one of the most well-known themes. The theoretical tradition of the creative genius theory dates back to the Enlightenment, and Immanuel Kant’s (1790/2000) rational aesthetics. While Kant, and other proponents of this tradition (e.g., J. C. Kaufman, 2001; S. B. Kaufman, Christopher & J. C. Kaufman, 2008), may disagree on whether genius is expressed in the arts alone, or both the arts and sciences together, they do agree on several points. There is a strong consensus that the creativity of a genius is innate and cannot be learned. Furthermore, they tend to emphasize that this creativity is, to some extent, outside the control of the genius. This notion continues to propagate the spiritual undertones to the term, as well as the idea of spontaneous creation for works of genius. It also explains why many of these authors also emphasize the link between creativity and madness; perhaps it is the sheer uncontrollable force of their creativity (and all that is associated with it, e.g., social exclusion) that drives them mad sooner or later. Examples of this type of genius are often drawn from the arts: music (e.g., Mozart), art (e.g., Pablo Picasso), dance (e.g., Mikhail Baryshnikov), poetry (e.g., Emily Dickinson), literature (e.g., William Shakespeare), and film (Steven Spielberg). The mad genius The second most prevalent theory is what is sometimes known as the “mad genius syndrome” (Simonton, 1999a). Proponents of this position (e.g., Andreasen, 1987, 2005; Jamison, 1989, 1993; Kretschmer, 1929/1970; Lombroso, 1889/1905) hold that there is a strong correlation between genius and insanity, madness, or mental illness. This categorization covers different sides of the “dark side” of genius: the “good” genius who struggles with mental illness and/or substance abuse, and the
  28. 28. The Genius in History: Historiographic Explorations 9 “evil” genius who performs acts so terrible that they could not possibly be sane. While the proponents of this position have not achieved a consensus as to whether or not there is a biological basis to genius, they do tend to share a disbelief in the eugenicist notion that breeding geniuses would be beneficial for humanity (see Galton, 1865, 1869/1892; Terman, 1925). While the mad genius may produce some benefits for humanity, overall their presence is thought to be problematic, and could in some cases pose more of threat than any great good. Similarly to the “creative genius” literature, examples of the “good” mad genius are often drawn from the arts: music (e.g., Kurt Cobain), art (e.g., Vincent Van Gogh), dance (e.g., Isadora Duncan), poetry (e.g., Edgar Allan Poe), literature (e.g., Virginia Woolf), and film (e.g., Marilyn Monroe). On occasion, however, there are examples to be found in the sciences (e.g., John Nash). Examples of the “evil” genius are almost exclusively drawn from the monarchy, political, and military leaders (e.g., Vlad III, known as Vlad the Impaler) or criminal activities (e.g., Jack the Ripper). The intelligent genius The third type, the intelligent genius, has not enjoyed quite as long a tradition as the previous two categories. In the early 20th century, it managed to gain consider- able ground in the psychological literature, mainly through Lewis M. Terman’s work (1916, 1925; see also Cox, 1926; Hollingworth, 1926, 1942; Miles & Wolfe, 1936). However, as Robert S. Albert (1969) has noted, the use of the term “genius” was gradually phased out and replaced with the notion of “giftedness” by the mid-20th century. Therefore, taken from this perspective, giftedness research (especially longi- tudinal studies) can also be thought of as part of the larger lineage of research on the psychology of genius. The philosophical roots of the intelligent genius tradition date back to the German Romantic philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer (1883/1964), in The World as Will and Idea. However, this stream of thought remained fairly isolated in philosophy. Rather, it was the psychometric and historiometric traditions that began in England with Galton (1865, 1869/1892) that got taken up by psychology proper. Unfortunately for proponents of the intelligent genius theories, however, there is little similarity between them. They are divided on the issues of sociohistorical influence, how genius may be recognized, and what intelligence is at the most basic level (see, for example, Gardner, 1997; Terman, 1925). However, there are two distinct points of conver- gence beyond their primary focus on intelligence: They all acknowledge that genius is an innate gift that cannot be taught; and genius is, to some extent, a hereditary quality. Examples of intelligent geniuses are, unsurprisingly, most often drawn from the sciences (e.g., Albert Einstein), and more recently developers of technology (e.g., Steve Jobs) and business (e.g., Warren Buffett). The eminent genius The final type is the eminent genius, which is most clearly evident in the works of Albert (1975), Castle (1913), and Cattell (1903, 1906, 1910). While most of the authors espousing this position believed that eminence is not sufficient for defining genius in and of itself, they did believe that one had to become eminent before being
  29. 29. 10 Laura C. Ball considered a genius, and that this step was the most crucial element. Albert (1975) produced an often-cited definition of genius that is based on this notion: A person of genius is anyone who, regardless of other characteristics he may possess or have attributed to him, produces, over a long period of time, a large body of work that has a significant influence on many persons for many years; requiring these people, as well as the individual in question, to come to terms with a different set of attitudes, ideas, viewpoints, or techniques. (p. 144) From this perspective, it almost does not matter whether someone has become known as a genius because of their outstanding creativity, intelligence, or even madness – they must all be recognized as genius first. Therefore, fame, celebrity, notoriety, or eminence is a prerequisite for genius; it is a necessary condition. Examples of people who are eminent geniuses may come from any domain, as recognition is the only precondition. However, there are those who could be said to have become eminent who may not have been otherwise if it were not for birth right (e.g., Henry VIII), marriage (e.g., Anne Boleyn), celebrity (e.g., Paris Hilton) or other factors external to the person, such as being victims of, or surviving, a tragedy (e.g., Margaret Brown, known as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”). The Psychology of Genius: Historical Methods Theoretical orientation and explanation are not the only axes upon which the history of the psychology of genius literature can be explored; methodology has always been a defining feature of psychological explanation. As with the broader field of psychology, the psychology of genius literature is dominated by two styles of analysis: quantitative and qualitative. It should be noted that what follows is, of necessity, a brief account of the different methods used to study genius. For a more complete discussion, refer to Simonton’s (1990, 1999b, 2009b) writings. Quantitative approaches In general, the quantitative approaches to the psychology of genius pay homage to Galton, who first brought nomothetic and statistical reasoning to bear on the psy- chological study of genius. However, contemporary methods can most clearly be seen in Lewis M. Terman’s Genetic Studies of Genius project, where there is a definable research study design (longitudinal), the use of psychometric assessments (e.g., the Stanford–Binet Intelligence Scales; Terman, 1925), and the use of what has come to be known as historiometry (Cox, 1926). Psychometrics Psychometric studies of genius are relatively rare, simply because rec- ognized geniuses are in short supply – most have long since passed away and fall into the category of “historical subjects” rather than “research participants.” That said, there are some longitudinal studies of gifted students and cross-sectional assessments of talented adults that have contributed to the psychology of genius literature (e.g., Helson & Crutchfield, 1970; Lubinski, Webb, Morelock, & Benbow, 2001). Given that this method does not typically make use of historical data, a discussion of this topic more properly belongs in the “science of genius.” Therefore, I will simply outline the
  30. 30. The Genius in History: Historiographic Explorations 11 early development of this method in the psychology of genius literature, rather than its more modern usage. Galton was a pioneer in the psychometric approach to the study of genius. His anthropometric laboratory allowed him to conduct large-scale assessments of individ- ual differences on factors such as reaction times, sensory acuity, height, weight, finger prints, and so on (Fancher, 1985; Simonton, 2009a). His work, published in Inquiries into Human Faculty and its Development (1883), inspired James McKeen Cattell to undertake similar assessments (Fancher, 1985). However, it was through the work of one of his graduate students – Clark Wissler – that Galton’s (and Cattell’s) methods were eventually found to be ineffective (Wissler, 1901). In 1925, Terman published the first volume of a book series chronicling a large- scale longitudinal study of gifted children. Each participant, identified as gifted using the Stanford–Binet Intelligence Scales (see Terman, 1916), was followed through- out their lives by the Stanford research team. During that time, the participants and their families were asked to complete a large number of psychometric assessments, including personality tests, and assessments of their mental and physical health. Many demographic details (e.g., marital status) were also tracked. While the Genetic Studies of Genius project was in its infancy, another psychologist – Leta S. Hollingworth – was also doing studies of gifted children (1926, 1942). Both of these studies have con- tributed greatly to the psychology of genius literature, as well as to our understanding of gifted children and adults. Historiometrics This is by far the most often used quantitative approach to studying the psychology of genius. Historiometry is the “scientific discipline in which nomo- thetic hypotheses about human behavior are tested by applying quantitative analyses to data concerning historical individuals” (Simonton, 1990, p. 3). Historiometric stud- ies typically draw from at least one of four potential sources: (1) personality sketches; (2) developmental histories; (3) content analyses; and (4) expert surveys (Simonton, 2009b). Overall, this is a statistical approach to the presentation of historical argu- ments that has resonated with psychologists (and social historians). Within the genius literature, Galton’s (1869) article “Hereditary Talent and Character” was the first foray into a statistical understanding of eminence, which was further developed in his book Hereditary Genius (1869/1892). In these publica- tions, where Galton attempted to determine if natural ability was an inherited quality, he looked at how many eminent individuals had family who were also eminent in their time. He also tracked the degree of the relationship, whether they were first relations (e.g., parent–child, siblings), second relations (grandparent–child, uncle– nephew, cousins), and so on. This kinship, or pedigree, method of analysis not only influenced later historiometric studies, but also came to contribute to the development of behavioral genetics.4 Following on the heels of these publications, Cattell published a series of articles where he further developed Galton’s methodology (Cattell, 1903, 1906, 1910). He quantified “eminence” by developing a list of the 1000 individuals who occupied the most space across a number of encyclopedias and other reference works. One of his students, Cora Sutton Castle, also adopted this methodology to do a study of eminent women (Castle, 1913). Havelock Ellis (1904) further refined the method by exam- ining biographical characteristics of eminent individuals, such as birth order, class, marital status, and other demographic factors.
  31. 31. 12 Laura C. Ball The first psychologist to use the term “historiometry” in their study was Catharine Cox (1926). For her dissertation, under the direction of Terman, Cox examined biographies and archival documents of noted geniuses, such as Galton and John Stuart Mill. She used this information to generate IQ scores, and then ranked her eminent historical subjects by that criterion. This is notable because it was the first attempt to generate a relative ranking of eminent individuals based on psycholog- ical characteristics thought to relate to genius, rather than by relative eminence (Cattell’s methodology), which could be influenced by popularity/celebrity, salacious stories/notoriety/infamy (e.g., sexual exploits, criminal activities), or social position (e.g., monarch, president; see also Terman, 1940). Later, as Catharine Cox Miles, she published a further study that compared her IQ estimates to estimates of mental and physical health (Miles & Wolfe, 1936). Miles’s work has probably had the biggest influence on current historiometrics, most notably those done by Dean Keith Simon- ton (e.g., Simonton, 1984, 1994, 2002).5 Other approaches A new form of historical scholarship is emerging, which may pro- vide new and fresh insights on the psychology of genius. The notion of a “factory” was first used by Daniel P. Todes (1997, 2002) to describe the way in which Ivan Pavlov was able to produce large quantities of scholarly writings on his classical condition- ing studies. Recently, this approach has been adapted by Jeremy T. Burman and me (Ball, 2012; Burman, 2012; Burman & Ball, 2011, 2012). A “psychological factory” is defined as any author who is able to publish 10 or more publications for at least two consecutive years. Using this search and selection criterion in PsycNET, we were able to develop a list of “factories” operating in (predominately North American) psychol- ogy. By applying this method, we are able to ask new questions of history, such as: what is effective leadership and mentoring in psychology; and what kind of departments fos- ter excellent publication records? This method does not look to data and statistics to provide answers, as it would with traditional historiometric approaches to productivity and eminence in psychology (e.g., Simonton, 2000, 2002, 2005). Rather, it uses the data to open up new questions and new avenues of historical critique and explanation. It therefore acts as a bridge between the quantitative and qualitative approaches. Qualitative approaches In general, qualitative approaches to the psychology of genius pay homage to the Carlylian tradition. While many authors who write in this style are not “hero- worshippers,” and may even be critical in their orientation, their methods nonetheless derive from Carlyle’s lineage. Biography The varieties of biography make up by far the largest amount of qualitative work produced on the psychology of genius. Frequently, popular biographies are writ- ten about recognized geniuses (e.g., Gleick, 2003; Goldsmith, 2005; Kanigel, 1991) to be consumed by academic and general audiences alike. However, academic authors also produce biographies of eminent individuals and geniuses. Some are strictly tra- ditional narratives concerning an individual or group of individuals (e.g., Dewsbury, Benjamin, & Wertheimer, 2006; Forrest, 1974; Minton, 1988), whereas others are used to present a historical argument (e.g., Fancher, 1985; Gould, 1996; Ruther- ford, Vaughn-Blount, & Ball, 2010). While the former run the risk of being akin to
  32. 32. The Genius in History: Historiographic Explorations 13 “hero-worship,” and are often deemed celebratory in nature, the latter often have a more critical focus. Interestingly, there are biographies of both a celebratory and critical nature that aim to provide insight into the psychology of genius, or the study of genius. For example, Albert (1998) used the life stories of G. H. Hardy and Srinivasa Ramanujan – both mathematicians – to illustrate the differences between giftedness, talent, and genius. In addition, Gardner (1997) has used biographies to illustrate his theory of extraordinar- iness, featuring the lives of Mozart, Sigmund Freud, Woolf, and Mahatma Gandhi. On the other side of the coin, Geoffrey Cantor (1996) has borrowed Michael Faraday’s life story in order to illustrate how biographies cast scientists in the role of “hero,” while Peter Hegarty (2007) has shown the gendered and gender-conformist nature of Terman’s theory of genius through an exploration of Terman’s life experiences. There is yet another variety of biography – psychobiography – that has been used to explore the nature of genius. Psychobiography combines biographical narratives with psychoanalysis in order to say something new about the historical subject. An excellent example of this is Erik Erikson’s (1958) case study of Martin Luther. Raymond E. Fancher (1983, 1998) has also written extensively on Galton’s life and work using various psychobiographical approaches. All of these strategies come together to give the reader a compelling and innovative look at the nature of genius, historical geniuses, and those who study them. Other techniques There are relatively few authors who have moved beyond biog- raphy and psychobiography as tools to explore the psychology of genius. However, participant interviews have been used by Nancy C. Andreasen (1987) to explore the prevalence of mental illness among creative writers. Similarly, Mihaly Csikszentmiha- lyi (1996) interviewed eminent creators across the arts, humanities, sciences, applied sciences, and politics in order to derive a theory of creativity and creative individ- uals. Using a slightly different approach, Kay R. Jamison (1989) used open-ended questionnaires in order to elucidate responses from writers and poets describing their struggles with mental illness. In all of these cases, not every participant may have been a “genius,” but they were certainly all eminent creators – some were even Nobel Prize winners. These alternative strategies help present an autobiographical voice that is rarely heard in the psychology of genius literature. The Genius in History Obviously, there are a wide variety of approaches to studying the psychology of genius. But how do these methods impact our perception of geniuses? What qualities, charac- teristics, and stories do they lead us to privilege in our scholarship? Here I will discuss not the relationship between the genius and history, but the relationship between the author and their eminent historical subject(s). Writing history is a continual process of engagement and reconstruction. One his- torian – Mary Terrall (2006) – said this of writing biographies in particular, A biography, a written life, in some manner brings back to life someone from the past, known to the present only through the material traces left behind, in archives, in attics, in print. Though historians do not tend to think they are in the business of resurrection, biographers do share something with novelists in this manner of bringing characters to life, or back to life. (p. 306)
  33. 33. 14 Laura C. Ball This allusion to writing fiction is intentional; Terrall argues that biographers engage in many of the same processes as novelists and use many of the same techniques, but unlike the novelist, their stories are bound by empirical, material evidence. And yet, biographies (and other histories) are a form of story-telling: We choose the narrative we put forward. But why do we choose the narratives we espouse? Daston and Sibum (2003) have suggested that people unknowingly adopt the “per- sona” – the explicit and implicit cultural values – of their discipline.6 The “scientific persona” is a role or identity that a scientist implicitly strives to emulate (see also Bordogna, 2005). Elsewhere, I have suggested that perhaps it is those individuals who most closely emulate the values of the discipline who become recognized as geniuses (Ball, 2012). Similarly, it is possible that biographers reconstruct their historical sub- jects in light of these personae; “genius” has its own persona (creativity, intelligence, madness), and biographers privilege evidence that fits with these narratives. Cantor (1996), when writing his biography of Michael Faraday, noted that other biographers had constructed different “Faradays” to fit the narrative they were trying to tell: Closer inspection of the literature shows that these “Faradays” fulfilled many different and contradictory functions. Thus, for some authors, he became the great discoverer of nature’s secrets, while for others he was the Christian philosopher par excellence, or the leading public lecturer, or the scientist with refined sensibilities – to mention but a few. These portrayals of Faraday – or more exactly these “Faradays” – embody complex cultural values and meanings. They posit the nature of science, its aims and methods, and also the ideals for which the scientist should strive. (p. 172) In all of these stories, however, the scientist (in this case Faraday) is cast in the role of hero to academic and popular audiences. These narratives serve important func- tions, including inspiration to potential and current scientists (Cantor, 1996; Hong & Lin-Siegler, 2012; S¨oderqvist, 1996; see also earlier quote from Baldwin, 1913/2001). However, they also have an impact on how we understand the psy- chology of genius. These biographies form an important source of information for any methodological approach, whether quantitative or qualitative. They introduce an important limitation on how we are able to understand the psychology of genius. The Construal-Level Theory of psychological distance (Liberman & Trope, 2008; Trope and Liberman, 2010) suggested yet another limitation: Perceived psychological distance has an effect on the inferences we make. The more psychologically distant we perceive an “Other” to be, the more likely we are to process their actions in terms of high-level personal qualities and characteristics. For those whom we perceive to be psychologically close to us, we tend to explain their behavior in highly situational and contextualized terms (e.g., “I studied hard, and that’s why I got an ‘A’ on the test”). For those that we perceive to be psychologically distant, we attribute their behavior to stable personality factors (e.g., “she got a 100% on that exam. She must be a genius!”). This is similar to the false attribution bias for in-groups versus out- groups: The psychologically distant “Other” is akin to the out-group. In the case of our eminent historical subjects, we see them as psychologically dis- tant on at least two levels: time and behavior. Often, these individuals are not our contemporaries in a given field, providing perceived distance over time. And there is a perceived distance in their behaviors – they have produced extremely original, cre- ative, and highly valued works, and their other behaviors may be erratic, reflecting a
  34. 34. The Genius in History: Historiographic Explorations 15 mental illness or substance-abuse problem. Because of this, we may see their behaviors as more intentional, directed, and indicative of underlying motivations and psycho- logical attributes. In essence, we see them as “performing” genius (cf. Butler, 1990). This “performance” then becomes the focus of the historical narrative. Recently, Simonton (2012) examined the biographies and other historical works surrounding Galileo and his discoveries. Typically, biographers portray Galileo’s find- ings as purposeful, the product of foresight, intuition, and unusual insight. However, upon closer examination, Simonton found that this was not strictly speaking the case. Galileo had successes as well as failures along the way to his discoveries, but it is his successes that are continuously highlighted by his biographers. To the contrary, the path to Galileo’s discoveries was not linear and purposeful. Often, he wandered the path blind and found inspiration in his artistic endeavours. Mario Biagioli (1993) has also written about the extent to which Galileo’s patronage networks influenced his work. Not only did they provide him with necessary funds, but they also provided him with scientific credibility. Much like Cantor (1996) found in his examination of Faraday’s biographies, the traditional image of Galileo has come to represent the sci- entific ideal of objective, independent, empirical observation. He is cast as a scientific hero. Galileo’s failures, the inspiration he found in the arts, and his need for wealthy patrons are often absent in his biographies. This case study highlights the effects of psychological distance, and the scientific persona at work in the biography of genius. Genius is constructed and reconstructed through biographical and other historical narratives. In the process, new life and mean- ing are given to the historical subject. This constructed representation of the genius through biography then comes to inform other approaches to the psychological study of genius, feeding historiometric, and psychobiographic research. In this way, the his- torian creates the narrative upon which the psychology of genius is based, thereby revealing the genius in history. Notes 1 This is also true in French (see Derrida 2003/2006). 2 The choice in wording (“devout follower”) is intentional. Galton was an Anglican and a committed member of the Church of England prior to Origin’s publication. However, after reading Darwin’s manuscript, he suffered a crisis of faith. Fancher (2009) has argued that Galton responded by replacing one faith and set of beliefs with another, turning to the theory of evolution with religious fervor and devotion. 3 This reference to “variation” should not be interpreted as “genetic variation.” Baldwin is writing in a pre-Mendelian time, and therefore without our current understanding of genes and genetics. By “variation’, he is referring to the original Darwinian meaning: within a niche, species vary. These variations drive natural selection. Baldwin also seems to be refer- ring to the idea of the “normal curve,” which is rooted in Galton’s work (who drew inspi- ration from Quetelet). 4 Especially through two publications following his work on genius where he developed an early version of twin study methodology (Galton, 1876, 1883; see Teo & Ball, 2009). 5 Simonton and Song (2009) conducted a secondary analysis of the Miles and Wolfe (1936) data using the same materials, gleaned from the archives at Akron and Stanford. Interest- ingly, they found slightly different results. 6 This is akin to Goffman’s (1959) dramaturgical model.
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