Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Engaging in more extraverted behavior in everyday life made people feel better and a bit more authentic

Enacted Extraversion as a Well-Being Enhancing Strategy in Everyday Life: Testing Across Three, Week-Long Interventions. Zack M. van Allen; Deanna L. Walker; Tamir Streiner; John M. Zelenski. Collabra: Psychology (2021) 7 (1): 29931. https://doi.org/10.1525/collabra.29931

Abstract: Lab-based experiments and observational data have consistently shown that extraverted behavior is associated with elevated levels of positive affect. This association typically holds regardless of one’s dispositional level of trait extraversion, and individuals who enact extraverted behaviors in laboratory settings do not demonstrate costs associated with acting counter-dispositionally. Inspired by these findings, we sought to test the efficacy of week-long ‘enacted extraversion’ interventions. In three studies, participants engaged in fifteen minutes of assigned behaviors in their daily life for five consecutive days. Studies 1 and 2 compared the effect of adding more introverted or extraverted behavior (or a control task). Study 3 compared the effect of adding social extraverted behavior or non-social extraverted behavior (or a control task). We assessed positive affect and several indicators of well-being during pretest (day 1) and post-test (day 7), as well as ‘in-the-moment’ (days 2-6). Participants who engaged in extraverted behavior reported greater levels of positive affect ‘in-the-moment’ when compared to introverted and control behaviors. We did not observe strong evidence to suggest that this effect was more pronounced for dispositional extraverts. The current research explores the effects of extraverted behavior on other indicators of well-being and examines the effectiveness of acting extraverted (both socially and non-socially) as a well-being strategy.

Keywords:happiness, personality, positive affect, well-being, extraversion

This research further explores the robust link between extraversion and positive affect with a more novel focus on intentionally adding extraverted behaviors to daily life. Consistent with observational data, laboratory-based experiments, and real-world interventions, across three studies, we observed that engaging in extraverted behavior was associated with elevated levels of in-the-moment positive affect compared to introverted behavior and/or other control behaviors (Hypothesis 1). However, general, retrospective reports suggested that participants did not consistently experience increased positive affect from extraverted behavior during the week of the intervention, compared to the preceding week (Hypothesis 2). Further, we did not find clear support for the idea that dispositional extraverts might benefit more from engaging in more extraverted behavior compared to dispositional introverts (Hypothesis 3). These three studies suggest that average levels of momentary positive affect can be increased through the addition of extraverted behavior; however, these results do not support the idea that enacted extraversion interventions of 15-minutes daily behavior change are sufficient to produce lasting changes in well-being.

[Table 12. Correlations Between Trait Extraversion and Well-Being for Post-Test Assessment and Daily Reports]

One strength of our studies was the randomized controlled trial designs in Studies 2 and 3. Interestingly, the effect of extraverted behavior on positive affect in our studies varied depending on the control group. We observed the strongest effect of extraverted behavior when compared to enacted introversion (Studies 1 and 2) or journaling about daily happenings (Study 3). In contrast, when compared to an arguably more ‘active’ control, reflecting on one’s childhood (Study 2), the relative benefits of extraverted behavior were not clear. Taken together with conceptually similar experiments, increases in positive affect appear to be most consistent when compared to enacted introversion (present studies; Margolis & Lyubomirsky, 2020) or tasks which contain several elements of introverted behavior (i.e., a ‘sham’ condition which included instructions to act unassuming, sensitive, calm, modest, and quiet; Jacques-Hamilton et al., 2019). Said another way, some of the suggested benefits of extraverted behavior could be equally well-described as costs of introverted behavior.

When considered with the available observational (e.g., Fleeson et al., 2002; McNiel et al., 2010; McNiel & Fleeson, 2006) and experimental data collected both in laboratory (e.g., Zelenski et al., 2012; Zelenski, Whelan, et al., 2013) and naturalistic settings (e.g., Jacques-Hamilton et al., 2019; Margolis & Lyubomirsky, 2020), our results contribute to the confidence in a robust effect of state extraversion on positive affect. Although we did not find strong evidence that this effect varied as a function of trait extraversion (cf., Jacques-Hamilton et al., 2019), correlational evidence in the present studies did suggest that trait introverts perceived extraverted behavior to require more effort, and that trait extraversion was (inconsistently) related to feelings of authenticity when completing extraverted tasks. These interactions were generally non-significant in regression models, though even our larger studies may be underpowered to detect interactions reliably. To be clear, we did not design our studies to test null trait by condition interactions given the pattern of null interactions in the existing literature. Following planned analysis, we considered the application of equivalence tests (e.g., Lakens et al., 2018; Schuirmann, 1987) to determine if we could rule out interactions that were larger than trivially small (i.e., similar to concluding the null). Recently, the equivalence testing framework has been expanded to apply to interaction terms in multiple regression (Alter & Counsell, 2021). However, post-hoc applications of equivalence testing are problematic, and the size of our samples were not well suited to the use of equivalence testing for multiple regression (Alter & Counsell, 2021). Detecting significant interactions, and persuasively ruling them out, both require substantial power. Additionally, equivalence testing requires the identification of a SESOI (smallest effect size of interest) and after careful consideration we were unable to arrive at a reasonable SESOI based on available research given the scarcity of similar studies employing multiple regression and difficulty of translating ‘just noticeable differences’ to interactions including a continuous (trait) predictor. Ultimately, we believe that any reasonable SESOI would be likely to produce an ‘inconclusive’ result due to our sample sizes. Therefore, while we cannot rule out the possibility that the enacted extraversion-positive affect association depends on dispositional extraversion, we did not observe strong evidence for its influence. Our research is ultimately inconclusive regarding interactions, and future work will likely need substantially larger samples (and to define a SESOI a priori) to provide more definitive answers.

It is also possible that we did not observe stronger evidence of ‘costs’ to acting counter-dispositionally (cf. Jacques-Hamilton et al., 2019) due to methodological differences between studies. For example, participants in our experiments were asked to engage in fifteen extra minutes of introverted or extraverted behavior each day (mirroring the length of time used in lab-based studies), whereas Jacques-Hamilton and colleagues (2019) asked participants to modify their behavior in interactions with others “as much as possible” for one week, and Margolis et al. (2020) likewise instructed participants to ‘be as introverted/extraverted as you can’. Although comparisons of the duration and intensity of extraverted behavior are not possible between studies, it is likely that people engaged in extraverted behavior less frequently in our studies.

Notably, fewer trait interactions have been observed when participants have been asked to report on specific instances of behavior, for example via experience sampling methods or questionnaires on one’s day. Specifically, the moderating effect of trait extraversion on positive affect in the Jacques-Hamilton et al. (2019) study was observed in retrospective accounts but not in momentary data. The difference in task instruction within the present studies (i.e., 15 minutes) may make it more reasonable for introverts to introduce short bursts of extraverted behavior into their daily lives, rather than trying to adjust their general approach when interacting with other people (which would naturally be easier for dispositional extraverts). Therefore, dispositional levels of extraversion may influence the costs and/or benefits derived from extraverted behavior, at least for positive affect, when such behavior is enacted more frequently and is sustained over longer durations of time. Further research is required to determine the trade-offs between short-term and long-term counter-dispositional behavior and the hedonic benefits of sustained enacted extraversion.

Collectively, the accumulating evidence from observational and experimental data supports the trait-state isomorphism hypothesis (Fleeson, 2001). The trait-state isomorphism hypothesis also predicted the association between subjective vitality and state extraversion observed in each of our three experiments. Specifically, the association between trait extraversion and vitality (Ryan & Frederick, 1997) is predicted by the isomorphism hypothesis to hold at the state level, an association we observed consistently. However, given the strong correlations between measures of positive affect and subjective vitality, both measuring high-arousal and high-pleasantness constructs, the tendency for these outcomes to co-vary with state extraversion is perhaps not surprising and has been observed previously (Pickett et al., 2020).

Although consistently observed through a variety of methods, the mechanisms underlying the state extraversion/positive affect association are still not well-understood. One potential hypothesis for this association is that the relationship between extraversion and social interactions may partially explain this link. We attempted to dissociate social from non-social forms of extraversion in Study 3 with separate instructions. Participants who added socially motivated extraverted behavior to their daily lives (e.g., “I made plans with a friend and consciously made the effort to be more talkative and outgoing…”) did not report any more positive affect than did participants who engaged in non-social extraverted behavior (e.g., ”After finishing work, I took the bus down to the market and tried Ethiopian food, I went alone and made my way around the market until I found something that was new to me”). This finding is consistent with mediation analysis (Jacques-Hamilton et al., 2019) which did not detect a mediating role of social activity frequency and the positive affect/state extraversion relationship. Taken together, these results suggest a possible ‘alternative path’ for dispositional introverts who wish to elevate their positive affect through primarily non-social activities or for situations in which social contact is not feasible.

Limitations and Future Research

Our three experiments provide experimental confirmation that intentionally incorporating more extraverted behavior into one’s daily life can increase momentary levels of positive affect. However, four main limitations should be noted. First, the studies are each limited by low compliance rates, with many participants excluded from analysis for failing to complete a minimum number of daily activities or for non-compliance. This could be a result of the length of the study and/or loss of interest over the course of the week (Lefever et al., 2007). However, we cannot rule out the possibility that some degree of selective participation (i.e., person-activity fit) was present and may potentially bias the results, or limit generalizability in ways that would decrease the efficacy of a broad intervention. Additionally, although we attempted to assess participants two weeks following the post-test with the goal of assessing longer-term changes in well-being, significantly high attrition prevented analysis of these data.

Second, the experimental designs in Studies 2 and 3 were implemented entirely online, which we suspect resulted in lower task compliance and the selection of activities which may not be ideal for the purposes of the studies. In our first study, participants’ activities were discussed and selected with the assistance of a researcher; however, the transition to an entirely online intervention (which facilitated scalability) resulted in a reduced capacity for quality control. Although it is tempting to attribute the stronger results observed in Study 1 to this characteristic of the experimental design, especially when identifying significant pre-post changes in well-being, the smaller sample size and possible experimenter effects cannot be overlooked as being limiting factors.

Third, the ‘dosage’ of the experimental manipulation may have been insufficient to produce detectable changes in affect and well-being over time. One tentatively supporting piece of evidence for this suggestion comes from a recent 15-week study where participants who engaged in more enacted extraversion tasks were more likely to report positive changes in trait extraversion over time (Hudson et al., 2019). Although this experiment focused on trait change rather that well-being outcomes, it highlights the possibility that a higher frequency of enacted extraversion may be required for sustained changes in trait-related outcomes (e.g., positive affect, well-being).

Fourth, although the promise of enacted extraversion as a well-being increasing strategy is to provide individuals with a simple behavioural tool to increase their mood and well-being, our experiments are conducted at the group level and results cannot be inferred at the individual level. The findings from our two randomized controlled trials provide some evidence that average levels of positive affect may be enhanced at the group level. However, without further researching using idiographic methods, we must refrain from committing an ecological fallacy (Robinson, 1950) by suggesting that our experiments support enacted extraversion as a strategy for any given individual. Moreover, across the recent acting extraverted studies, there appears a possible trade-off between the amount of activity needed for lasting change and the emergence of concurrent costs for dispositional introverts (cf., Jacques-Hamilton et al., 2019).

Finally, although participants in all conditions received similar behavioural instructions, it is possible the behavioural adjectives of extraversion were more socially desirable than those for introversion and influenced participants’ expectations regarding the purpose of the study. Behavioural instructions in the introversion conditions were designed to counter this potential effect, however, it is unclear whether the study outcomes were influenced by social desirability.

Women's greater compliance levels with preventive health behaviours could, at least in part, be attributed to their higher agreeableness and conscientiousness scores

Pandemic Prevention and Personality Psychology: Gender Differences in Preventive Health Behaviors during COVID-19 and the Roles of Agreeableness and Conscientiousness. Tobias Otterbring, Alexandra Festila. Journal of Safety Science and Resilience, November 30 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnlssr.2021.11.003

Abstract: One of greatest public health crises in recent times, the COVID-19 pandemic, has come with a myriad of challenges in terms of health communication and public cooperation to prevent the spread of the disease. Understanding which are the key determinants that make certain individuals more cooperative is key in effectively tackling pandemics and similar future challenges. In the present study (N = 800), we investigated whether gender differences in compliance with preventive health behaviors (PHB) at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic could be established, and, if so, whether the personality traits of agreeableness and conscientiousness can help explain this presumed relationship. Consistent with our theorizing, we found women to score higher than men on agreeableness and conscientiousness, and to be more willing to comply with a set of PHB. Importantly, both personality traits were found to mediate the gender-compliance link. This means that women's greater compliance levels with PHB could, at least in part, be attributed to their higher agreeableness and conscientiousness scores. A greater understanding of the determinants of PHB in terms of gender and associated personality traits may help identify options for developing more effective communication campaigns, both in terms of communication channel selection and message content.

Keywords: COVID-19pandemicsgender, personalitypsychologyagreeablenessconscientiousnesspreventive health behaviors


In the present research, we investigated potential gender differences in individuals’ compliance with a set of preventive health measures (i.e., social distancing, wearing a face mask, hand hygiene), as introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, we examined whether the personality traits of agreeableness and conscientiousness mediated the role of the hypothesized gender differences in shaping compliance responses. Consistent with our theorizing and previous related research, we found women to score higher than men on agreeableness and conscientiousness, and to be more willing to comply with the preventive health measures studied herein. Importantly, both personality traits were found to mediate the gender-compliance link. Thus, women's greater compliance levels withing the realm of preventive health measures during a public health crisis can, at least in part, be attributed to their higher agreeableness and conscientiousness scores.

Previous research has consistently reported that men appear to be less compliant with multiple PHB. Accordingly, they are generally less likely to engage in self-care techniques when they are sick (e.g., staying in bed), less likely to have regular screenings and check-ups (e.g., for cholesterol, blood pressure, cancer), and less likely to follow preventive treatments (e.g., take medicine for blood pressure), just to name a few examples (for a review, see [13]). There are numerous theories as to why such gender-differentiated patterns emerge, including traditional gender roles and men's perceived invulnerability to risk [1416]. Building on previous studies reporting gender differences in agreeableness and conscientiousness [21528315153], our study indicates that such differences in personality could at least partially explain behavioral patterns of this type. Indeed, agreeableness is a dimension associated with maintenance of positive interpersonal relations and conflict avoidance [27], characteristics that might explain a tendency to perform normative behaviors (e.g., compliance with preventive behaviors). As for conscientiousness, certain self-regulatory processes associated with this personality trait (e.g., the ability to control one's behavior and to perform a given task) could aid the performance of otherwise aversive behaviors, including compliance with health behaviors [36], as examined herein.

Although our obtained effect sizes were typically small to moderate by conventional standards [1921], our results may still have practical implications. In fact, the strengths of our relationships are at least as strong as the link between extraversion test scores and success in sales or between antihistamine use and reduced sneezing [33]. Thus, multiply our obtained gender differences by the number of men and women in the world and bear in mind the ease with which brief measures of personality traits can be collected, and it should become evident why the current findings are relevant (cf. [42]). For example, a greater understanding of the determinants of PHB in terms of gender and associated personality traits may help identify options for developing more targeted communication campaigns, both in terms of communication channel selection and message content.

One suggestion for future research, which could not be addressed in the current investigation given our country characteristics, is to test whether the gender difference in compliance would be greater in more gender egalitarian countries. Because the gender equality paradox indicates that the greatest gender differences in personality traits and other important aspects of social life exist in the most gender egalitarian cultures (e.g., [710]; Costa et al., 2001; [183137505154]), future research could test whether such findings also extend to compliance with preventive health measures during global health crises.

In closing, some potential limitations should be acknowledged. The present study recruited participants through a crowdsourced online platform without asking questions about participants’ educational, occupational, or socioeconomic status. While a critic may therefore question the representativeness and quality of our data, it should be noted that online panel studies are typically 1) more representative than studies based on other common sample types [8224346], and 2) often yield comparable or higher data quality when compared to that obtained through traditional samples [5254448]. Moreover, Prolific participants frequently outperform other online panels in terms of data quality on aspects such as attention, comprehension, and reliability [17]. In fact, even non-probabilistic online panel responses have been shown to generate data quality comparable to face-to-face survey responses by means of reliability and validity [49]. Recent meta-analytic evidence further indicates that online panel data have similar psychometric properties with respect to internal reliability estimates for scales and effect size estimates for the relationships between independent and dependent variables, while simultaneously producing “criterion validities that generally fall within the credibility intervals of existing meta-analytic results from conventionally sourced data” ([60], p. 425). Nevertheless, future studies should optimally collect data on participants’ educational, occupational, and socioeconomic status to ensure generalizability of our results.

Compared to differences among their male patient counterparts, female patients randomly assigned a female doctor are 5.0% more likely to be evaluated as disabled and receive 8.5% more subsequent cash benefits on average

Gender Differences in Medical Evaluations: Evidence from Randomly Assigned Doctors. Marika Cabral & Marcus Dillender. NBER Working Paper 29541, Dec 2021. https://www.nber.org/papers/w29541

Abstract: While a growing body of evidence documents large gender disparities in health care and related social insurance programs, little is known about what drives these disparities. We leverage administrative data and random assignment of doctors to patients inherent within the workers’ compensation insurance claim dispute resolution process to study the impact of gender match between doctors and patients on medical evaluations and subsequent social insurance benefits received. Compared to differences among their male patient counterparts, female patients randomly assigned a female doctor rather than a male doctor are 5.0% more likely to be evaluated as disabled and receive 8.5% more subsequent cash benefits on average. There is no analogous gender-match effect for male patients. The magnitude of these effects implies that having female doctors evaluate patients entirely offsets the observed gender gap in the likelihood of being evaluated as disabled when male doctors evaluate patients. We explore mechanisms through further analysis of the administrative data and complementary survey evidence. In addition, we present broader evidence on gender gaps in workers' compensation insurance and gender homophily in patients' selections of doctors in settings where patients have choice. Combining this evidence, we conduct policy counterfactuals illustrating how policies increasing gender diversity among doctors or increasing gender homophily in patient-doctor matches may impact gender gaps in evaluated disability. Our findings indicate that policies increasing the share of female patients evaluated by female doctors may substantially shrink gender gaps in medical evaluations and associated outcomes.

How Erwin Schrödinger indulged his ‘Lolita complex’ in Ireland. Joe Humphreys, The Irish Times

How Erwin Schrödinger indulged his ‘Lolita complex’ in Ireland. Joe Humphreys. The Irish Times, Sat Dec 11 2021. https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/how-erwin-schr%C3%B6dinger-indulged-his-lolita-complex-in-ireland-1.4749204

Nobel Prize-winning physicist, who spent 17 years in Ireland, was a serial groomer of girls

Several years ago Bernard Biggar was doing family tree research online when he came across a reference to his mother which stopped him in his tracks.

He knew his grand-uncle, the mathematician Msgr Pádraig de Brún, had been a friend of Erwin Schrödinger – the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who became an Irish citizen in 1948 during a 17-year stay here. Walter Moore’s biography of Schrödinger detailed how the Irish priest and the Austrian scientist became good friends but one passage about a holiday get-together at Msgr de Brún’s home on the Dingle Peninsula left Biggar shocked:

“The three children of Paddy’s sister Margaret were there at the time, Maire (18), ... Seamus (16) and Barbara (12) ... Despite her dirty nails, Barbara was a beautiful child and Erwin became infatuated with her. She was the third instance of his ‘Lolita complex’, taking her place along with ‘Weibi’ Rella and ‘Ithi’ Junger.

“The situation became so incongruous that someone, probably Paddy Browne [Msgr de Brún], had a serious word with him, and muttering dark imprecations, Erwin desisted from further attentions to Barbara, although he listed her among the unrequited loves of his life.”

Schrödinger was 53-years-old when he made advances on the pre-teenager.

Barbara MacEntee was Biggar’s mother.

Biggar contacted The Irish Times to highlight the episode after I wrote an article in September about a new cycle trail to honour Schrödinger's link to the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (Dias). The article made no reference to Schrödinger's record as a sexual predator but, on reflection, it's clear that it should have.

The evidence is hiding in plain sight: Schrödinger was a serial abuser whose behaviour fitted the profile of a paedophile in the widely understood sense of that term.

In the case of Junger, she was 14 when the 39-year-old Schrödinger took advantage of his role as her tutor to sexually abuse her. “As well as the maths, the lessons included ‘a fair amount of petting and cuddling’ and Schrödinger soon convinced himself that he was in love with Ithi,” John Gribbin wrote in his 2012 biography of the physicist.

Over Christmas 1927, Schrödinger “set out on a long campaign of what would now be described as grooming”. He continued to pursue the student, who he called “Ithy-bitty” and by 17 she was his “mistress”. In 1932 she became pregnant and had a disastrous abortion that left her sterile.** By this stage Schrödinger had abandoned her for his next conquest.

Efforts at justification

Since Biggar came across the reference to his mother, he has examined the age difference in Schrödinger’s numerous “relationships”. Rella, the first girl to whom Schrödinger proclaimed love, was several years his junior in high school. His next obsession, Felicie Krauss, was 15 when Schrödinger was 24. Annemarie Bertel was 16 when Schrödinger was 25, and so it continued, the gap in years widening over time.

“I hope [this] gives you some background as to why it disturbs my siblings and I considerably when Schrödinger’s sexual depravity is conveniently overlooked,” Biggar says.

Erwin Schrödinger with Mgr Pádraig de Brún, a close friend while he lived in Ireland: The clergy man may have prevented the scientist from pursuing a young girl.

What makes Schrödinger’s behaviour additionally troubling is how he sought to justify it intellectually. He kept a record of his conquests in personal diaries, called Ephemeridae, and explained his predilection for teenage girls on the grounds that their innocence was the ideal match for his natural genius. He wrote: “Comparable in some way to the end of the spectrum, which in its deepest violet shows a tendency towards purple and red, it seems to be the usual thing that men of strong, genuine intellectuality are immensely attracted only by women who, forming the very beginning of the intellectual series, are as nearly connected to the preferred springs of nature as they themselves. Nothing intermediate will do, since no woman will ever approach nearer to genius by intellectual education than some unintellectuals do by birth so to speak.”

As Moore pointed out, Schrödinger was not only remarkably egotistical but his attitude to the opposite sex “was essentially that of a male supremacist”.

A number of women were attracted to Schrödinger and he had consensual affairs outside of his marriage. For years, he lived openly with both his wife Bertel and mistress Hildegunde March, with whom he had a child. In at least one other case, however, consent – by our current understanding – was absent.

While in Dublin, he fathered two children by two different women. One was Sheila May, an actress and activist; the other is known to us as Kate Nolan. It is not her real name as her family have always wanted to preserve their privacy.

She was 26 when the 57-year-old Schrödinger set eyes on her while she was working as a Red Cross volunteer in the Irish capital.

Contribution vs crimes

“It took Erwin some time to break down her resistance,” Gribbin writes. “He did so in the summer of 1945, and when the inevitable happened Kate confessed to Lena Lean, the Schrödingers’ resident childminder, that she was not quite sure how she had become pregnant. Of all Schrödinger’s ‘conquests’, this is the hardest to justify on the grounds of ‘true love’.”

Reassessing historical figures is tricky territory. How do you weigh Schrödinger's sexual crimes against his unique contribution to science? At Trinity College Dublin, the physicist famously delivered his What Is Life? public lectures, which helped to pave the way for a golden era in molecular biology, and had a major influence on James Watson and Francis Crick's discovery of DNA's double helical structure in 1953.

Schrödinger, by all accounts, could be charming, entertaining and kind. He was aware of the charisma he had and used it to good effect in scientific collaborations. He loved Ireland, having been wooed here by Éamon de Valera to help found Dias in 1940. Despite Ireland’s Catholic conservatism, and the deprivations of the Emergency, he felt entirely free living here.

“In Germany, if a thing was not allowed, it was forbidden. In England if a thing was not forbidden, it was allowed. In Austria and Ireland, whether it was allowed or forbidden, they did it if they wanted to,” he once wrote.

Schrödinger and his wife Anny: Ithi Junger was 14 when the 39-year-old Schrödinger took advantage of his role as her tutor to sexually abuse her.

Schrödinger’s non-conformism has traditionally been portrayed as one of his endearing traits, and his sexual activities have been credited widely with firing the sparks of his imagination. The idea that he “did his great work during a late erotic outburst in his life” – as the mathematician Hermann Weyl put it – became accepted almost without challenge.

This presents scientific institutions today with a dilemma of how to remember, commemorate or honour Schrödinger. The issue is not whether to “cancel” him but whether we can more accurately categorise his dark side. To call it “womanising” is misleading. To call it “eroticism” is to parrot the explanation he gave, and we must be conscious of the fact that there are many people who have no voice in the historical record.

Cycling map

Barbara MacEntee died in 1995 and it was only later that her family discovered how Schrödinger had pursued her. “As you can imagine the subject was never discussed with my mother,” her son says.

The Irish Times asked Dias why the Schrödinger cycling map of Dublin made no reference to the physicist's sexual affairs in the city, particularly his involvement with May and Nolan.

“Schrödinger’s Cycling Map of Dublin offers ‘a glimpse into Schrödinger’s life in Dublin’,” the institute replied. “It focuses on his public life as a scientist, and his role as the first director of the school of theoretical physics at Dias. The cycling route is intended to be enjoyed by people of all ages. It is not intended as a detailed biography.”

Asked whether it was appropriate to be commemorating Schrödinger, given what we know about his record as a sexual predator, Dias said: “Erwin Schrödinger was one of the most high-profile scientists ever to live and work in Ireland. Unfortunately, today, his scientific legacy is significantly flawed due to allegations about his private life. Dias deeply condemns any inappropriate sexual behaviour on the part of Prof Schrödinger or any other persons, past or present.

“In recent years, society as a whole has begun to re-evaluate the legacies of certain individuals and organisations where information has come to light about past misconduct. Dias and the wider scientific community are going through this process.

“Across all sectors of society, it is important to strike a balance between acknowledging the achievements of historical figures and publicly recognising – where appropriate – instances of misconduct on their part.”

* An amendment was made to this article on 13/02/22 to correct the spelling of the name Felicie Krauss.

** An amendment was made on 25/10/22 to give the correct date of Ithi Junger’s pregnancy.

Physical Disability Affects Women’s but Not Men’s Perception of Opposite-Sex Attractiveness

Physical Disability Affects Women’s but Not Men’s Perception of Opposite-Sex Attractiveness. Farid Pazhoohi, Francesca Capozzi and Alan Kingstone. Front. Psychol., Dec 7 2021. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.788287

Abstract: Physical appearance influences our perceptions, judgments, and decision making about others. While the current literature with regard to the perceptions and judgments of nondisabled people’s attractiveness is robust, the research investigating the perceived physical attractiveness and judgments of physically disabled individuals is scarce. Therefore, in the current study, we investigated whether people with physical disabilities are perceived by the opposite sex as more or less attractive relative to nondisabled individuals. Our results, based on over 675 participants, showed a positive effect for women’s attractiveness ratings of men with physical disabilities, but not men’s attractiveness ratings of physically disabled women. Moreover, social desirability bias was positively associated with attractiveness ratings of physically disabled individuals, meaning those with higher tendency to be viewed favorably by others rated physically disabled individuals more attractive. Finally, our results revealed that attractiveness ratings of individuals with physical disabilities are positively associated with extroversion and empathy in both men and women, and positively with agreeableness and negatively with neuroticism in women. In conclusion, our study showed women rate men with physical disabilities as higher on attractiveness than nondisabled men, which is also influenced by their social desirability bias.


Previous research has considered physical attractiveness mainly from an evolutionary perspective using nondisabled individuals. However, for the first time, the current research investigated the perception of attractiveness in individuals of the opposite sex with physical disabilities. Personality traits, interpersonal empathic reactivity, and social desirability bias were also measured to test for the potential contribution of individual differences on perception. Our results revealed that women considered physically disabled men as more attractive than nondisabled men, while no difference was found for men’s attractiveness ratings of women as a function of physical disability.

Results of the analysis of a subsample that answered the social desirability scale showed a similar effect for men and women’s ratings, as well as a positive association with social desirability bias (SDB), indicating social desirability played a role in the ratings of attractiveness.

Collectively, the results show that women rate physically disabled men more attractive than nondisabled men and suggest that women’s tendency to inaccurately report on sensitive topics (e.g., judgment of physically disabled individuals), as was measured using SDB, was positively associated with their higher attractiveness ratings of men. This is in line with previous findings showing a positive attitude toward physical disabilities, as well as a sex difference in such an attitude, with women holding a more favorable attitude compared to men (Fonosch and Schwab, 1981Olkin and Howson, 1994Satchidanand et al., 2012). However, it should be noted that the previous studies mainly tested healthcare workers or school-age children’s attitudes toward physical disabilities (e.g., Ten Klooster et al., 2009Satchidanand et al., 2012Bustillos and Silván-Ferrero, 2013Yorke et al., 2017), but not in an interpersonal attraction context. The finding that women rate disabled men more attractive is counterintuitive from an evolutionary perspective. From an adaptive perspective, the predication is that both men and women would consider nondisabled individuals more attractive compared to disabled individuals, as such characteristics might trigger disease-avoidance mechanism (Park et al., 2003). Our results suggest that individual differences in personality and empathy override the influence of such a mechanism in the perception of attractiveness.

Attractiveness ratings of physically disabled individuals were positively associated with extraversion personality in both men and women. The positive association of extraversion and attractiveness ratings is in line with previous research finding a positive relationship between extraversion personality and preference for attractive faces (Fink et al., 2005Pound et al., 2007Welling et al., 2009). However, our finding of a positive association between physical disability attractiveness ratings and extraversion suggests that individuals who happen to be more outgoing and energetic consider physically disabled individuals of the opposite sex as more attractive. For female participants, agreeableness (positively) and neuroticism (negatively) were associated with ratings of physically disabled male attractiveness. This suggests that more friendly and compassionate women consider physically disabled men more attractive, as do women who score lower on measures of neuroticism. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first investigation on the association between personality traits and attractiveness ratings of individuals with physical disabilities.

Similarly, no previous research has tested the relationship between personality traits and overall perception of individuals with physical disabilities. Clearly, more research is warranted to explore the relationship between personality traits of nondisabled individuals and their perception of people with physical disabilities.

As for measures of empathy, male and female participants’ ratings of attractiveness were positively associated with their empathic concern and perspective taking tendencies; though male’s attractiveness ratings were also associated with the fantasy aspect of empathy. In other words, in general, both male and female participants’ tendency to spontaneously adopt the psychological point of view of others and their ability in assess feelings of sympathy and concern for others was correlated with their attractiveness ratings of physically disabled individuals. While no previous study has tested the association of empathy and perception of attractiveness in physically disabled individuals, previous research has shown a similar positive relationship between empathy with regard to stigmatized groups (Batson et al., 19972002). Moreover, a cross-cultural study provided evidence that individuals with a disability are often rated higher on perceived warmth, but not competence, than individuals without a disability (Cuddy et al., 2009). While we did not consider the characteristics of warmth and competence, our results show that women attributed more positive characteristics (i.e., attractiveness) to physically disabled individuals of the opposite sex.

Future Remarks and Conclusion

In the current study, we were interested in investigating the effect of perception of attractiveness as a function of physical disability in an interpersonal attraction context, in which individuals consider and rate individuals of the opposite sex. However, future research can test for the potential interactions regarding the sex of the participants’ and the stimuli, as well as the effect that other variables, such as ethnicity and age, have on one’s attractiveness ratings. For example, it is an open question whether women view women with physical disabilities with the same positive bias as they view men, or participants view older individuals with physical disabilities similar as young people. Moreover, future research may assess the degree to which participants’ prior experiences in interacting with people with physical disabilities affect their ratings of attractiveness of physically disabled individuals. Previous research has shown that prior contact with individuals with disabilities can lead to more favorable and positive attitudes toward children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities (McDougall et al., 2004Kalyva and Agaliotis, 2009Seo and Chen, 2009Perenc and Pęczkowski, 2018). Therefore, future research should consider such contact experiences on perception of attractiveness. Moreover, we used diverse categories of stimuli as the disability group (e.g., amputated legs, amputated arms, either with prosthetics or without), which might have influenced participants’ ratings. While our study lacks the statistical power to address this issue definitively, further studies could consider effect of each category separately on perception of attractiveness. Additionally, women’s attractiveness ratings of physically disabled men do not necessarily indicate they would actually want to date these men, a point that is reinforced by the social desirability data. Therefore, future research could investigate women’s level of interest in a short-term relationship as well as a long-term relationship with disabled men. It might be the case that women judge men with a disability hindered in their ability to secure and provide resources – a quality important in mate selection for women – thereby potentially reducing their interest in a long-term relationship with disabled men. Future research could also test the effect of attractiveness as a function of the cause of a disability. For example, pairing photos of a man’s disability with a story to explain the origin of the disability, either a story of an altruistic act (e.g., through military or police service) or a story about a reckless accident (e. g., car crash from driving drunk) might result in different attractiveness perception. For instance, in light of the fact that women find war heroes sexually attractive (Rusch et al., 2015), women may infer a disability resulting from an altruistic act as attractive. Finally, although we excluded the possibility of the visual images biasing the responses to the questionnaires by always presenting the questionnaires first, future research might choose to ensure that there was no effect of the questionnaires on the attractiveness ratings by inserting a distracting task between the two experimental procedures.

In summary, in the current study, we sought to examine if people with physical disabilities are perceived by the opposite sex as more or less attractive relative to nondisabled individuals. We also examined whether attractiveness ratings of physically disabled individuals are influenced by observers’ personality, empathy, and social desirability bias. Our results indicate that women rate men with physical disabilities as higher on attractiveness than nondisabled men. Such ratings were positively influenced by participants’ SDB, meaning those with higher tendency to be viewed favorably by others rated physically disabled individuals more attractive. Physical disability, however, does not appear to play a role in male perception of female attractiveness. Finally, our results reveal that ratings of individuals with physical disabilities are positively associated with extroversion and empathy in both men and women, and associated positively with agreeableness and negatively with neuroticism in women. These findings suggest that individual differences in personality and empathy can offset or override the influence of disease-avoidance mechanisms as predicted by an evolutionary perspective.

At school entry, girls are rated by teachers as more competent on measures of social skills than boys; it is less clear if this higher rating is stable or grows over time

Gender differences in children’s social skills growth trajectories. Daniel B. Hajovsky, Jacqueline M. Caemmerer & Benjamin A. Mason. Applied Developmental Science, Mar 3 2021. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888691.2021.1890592

Abstract: At school entry, girls are rated by teachers as more competent on measures of social skills than boys. It is less clear if this higher rating is stable or grows over time. To address this question, multiple group curve of factors models investigated gender-specific growth trajectories across seven waves of measurement in a large, longitudinal sample (N = 1024, NICHD SECCYD). Results showed that girls’ social skills were consistently rated higher from kindergarten to sixth grade, and the effect size was moderate (latent Cohen’s d = .37 to .62). Boys demonstrated greater heterogeneity in social skills at nearly every grade with the gender difference in variability stable after second grade. An examination of gender differences in growth trajectories showed that boys demonstrated a linear decrease over time, whereas girls’ social skills did not significantly change over time after accounting for initial level of social skills in kindergarten.

Creative Environments, Conditions, and Settings

Creative Environments, Conditions, and Settings. David M Harrington, University of California, Santa Cruz. In Encyclopedia of Creativity 3rd ed. Prinzter, Runco eds. Elsevier 2020.



Creative Environments

Creative environments help people function more creatively than they would in less creative environments. Because other entries in this Encyclopedia describe environmental factors which influence the creative functioning of people working within organizations and groups, this article will focus on environmental factors which often facilitate the efforts of autonomously creative people such as writers, visual artists, designers, and garage or basement inventors, who carry out much of their relatively solitary creative work without the support, supervision, or resources which organizations typically provide. [...]

Working Assumptions

This article is organized around the assumption that creative activities and projects present a variety of challenges to people who attempt to carry them out and to the environments in which they attempt to do so. It is also assumed and implicitly predicted that environments which help people meet such challenges will tend to support higher levels of creativity than environments which do not. For example, because some (but not all) people require periods of uninterrupted focus while engaged in certain phases of their creative activities, environments which make it easier to maintain sustained focus during those phases would be expected to support higher levels of creativity than environments which do not.

As this hypothetical example suggests, however, creative agents are not uniformly sensitive to or affected by any given project entailed challenge such as the need for sustained periods of uninterrupted focus. [...]

Creative Episodes: Common Elements, Features, and Associated Challenges

This section was constructed by (1) compiling a list of widely-cited and presumably relatively common features of creative activities, (2) drawing inferences about the challenges those features present to people engaged in them and to the environments in which they work, and (3) drawing inferences about the functional characteristics of environments that would tend to help autonomous creators meet those challenges.

Motivation. People are motivated to initiate and carry out creative activities by a variety of anticipated and experienced pleasures and satisfactions. Some of these pleasures and satisfactions flow directly from the activities themselves, and others are contingent upon anticipated and actual reactions of the outside world to the created products. The first category would include, for example, the pleasures people often derive from using their own imaginations, from physically manipulating their projects’ materials, or from creating some new in the world. The second category would involve matters such as the recognition and praise the creative agents receive from their peers, as well as evidence that their work products have informed, given pleasure to, or in some way benefitted those who come in contact with them. Most professionally creative adults who are financially responsible for themselves and others are also motivated by the hope that their creative work will enhance their financial well-being.

The nature of these motivations poses three challenges to the environments in which autonomous creators work. (1) Creative environments should contain or make possible the creation of workplaces in which process pleasures can be fully experienced. (2) They should contain relevant “audiences” who are able to derive or create value from the agent’s products and are capable of rewarding those who produce them with praise, recognition, monetary support, and opportunities for future work. (3) They should also contain people, social systems, and infrastructure (e.g. agents, editors, publishers, bookstores, and galleries) that help bring new products to the attention of such audiences. Environments which serve these functions well should support higher levels of creative activity than environments that do not.

Creative Seeds. Creative activity is sometimes triggered when creatively-inclined people come in contact with creative seeds. Seeds sometimes take the form of invitations, competitions, or commissions relevant to a creatively-inclined person’s creative interests. In other cases, creators decide to undertake projects which are available in the social or artistic-intellectual milieu as tasks and which are considered to be interesting and important tasks. Examples include writing the “Great American Novel,” writing an essay explaining in convincing detail how consciousness arises from activities of the brain, or producing a piece of art that captures the essence of the times.

More commonly, however, independent creators construct their own projects from what may be thought of as creative “seeds” which re-ignite and are assimilated to their ongoing creative interests. Seeds may come in the form of new ideas, images, sounds, objects, materials, processes, tools, and ways of thinking which are encountered in the outside world. The impact of Picasso’s contact with African art and masks nicely illustrates this phenomenon.

As a more prosaic example, a snippet of conversation overheard on a busy sidewalk or in a check-out line might become the seed for a new song, detective novel, piece of art, or nothing at all, depending upon whether it was overheard by a singer-songwriter, a writer of detective novels, a visual artist, or by someone who is not at all creatively-inclined. Creatively-inclined people also sometimes experience seeds emerging in the form of dream fragments or compelling feelings, ideas, or feelings which suddenly manifest themselves in consciousness. In other instances, creative seeds emerge from explorations and playful manipulations of the materials with which people are working.

The importance of seeds presents creatively inclined people with three challenge: (1) to place themselves in informationally and sensorially rich situations where they are apt to encounter new seeds; (2) to place themselves in or create settings in which internal seeds are apt to arise; (3) to place themselves in or create settings in which they are able to engage in the goal-free explorations and playful manipulations of the materials from which seeds often arise.

The corresponding challenges for environments are (1) to contain a rich panoply of seeds and (2) to contain settings or situations conducive the emergence of “internal” seeds, and (3) to provide settings in which goal-free explorations and playful manipulations of their materials are possible and permitted.

Spaces and Places. The creative activities being considered in this article must take place in 3-dimensional spaces. In some cases these spaces may involve little more than a place to sit and write, although in other cases these spaces may involve larger and more complex spaces in which special materials and equipment can be stored and used. The challenge to creative environments is to contain such spaces and to make them available or to make it possible for people to construct them. The challenge to autonomous creators is to locate or construct them.

Some people and some creative activities (e.g., plein-air artists, certain writers) require or prefer outdoor spaces in which to work.  Such spaces are often relatively quiet and solitary, frequently contain visually interesting vistas, are often located in appealing natural settings, and typically permit sustained and un-interrupted absorption in the task at hand.

Time. Creators typically would like to spend as much time as necessary on their projects and often wish to exercise considerable control over how their work time is configured. For example, some creators can or must work effectively in many short blocks of time whereas others need long periods of time. Some creators also have very strong preferences regarding the time of day, week, or even year and, in which to work. Some creatively-engaged people want to be able to plunge quickly into their creative work in response to suddenly emerging ideas or to a strong sense that they are really ready to work.  The challenge to these people is to find or “make” such time for their work and to find ways to control the configurations and availability of that time.

The corresponding challenge to creative environments is to help people find or make adequate work time and give them the freedom to configure and access that time as needed.

Reliance Upon Easily-Disrupted Concentration

I find it is very important to work intensively for long hours when I am beginning to see solutions to a problem. At such times atavistic competencies seem to come welling up. You are handling so many variables at a barely conscious level that you can’t afford to be interrupted. If you are, it may take a year to cover the same ground you could cover otherwise in sixty hours.

                  —Edwin Land, inventor of the Polaroid camera, quoted in Bello (1959), p. 158.

As illustrated by Edwin Land’s comment above, and as echoed by many others, some creators need protracted and uninterrupted periods of time during which they can become totally absorbed in their work without fear of being disrupted. The challenge to people who have such needs is to create or locate time and space in which such uninterrupted absorption and concentration is possible. The corresponding challenge to creative environments is to provide the space and time necessary for such periods of uninterrupted concentration.

Reliance Upon Experimentation, Exploration, and Partially-Guided Trial and Error

People in many fields often find themselves relying upon experimentation and partially-guided trial-and-error during certain phases of their creative activities. Although some creators enjoy these processes, others are made anxious or embarrassed by their uncertain effectiveness. As a result, some creatively-engaged people are very resistant to having people looking over their shoulders as they work.  The challenge for creative people is to understand and manage such feelings and fears sufficiently that they do not disrupt their work. The corresponding challenge for creative environments is to help creators understand and manage such feelings and help protect them from unwanted observation.

Reliance upon non-conscious cognitive processes. Creators sometimes experience their work as being dependent upon the functioning of cognitive processes which are largely beyond their conscious awareness or control and which may or may not produce useful ideas. In some instances the products of these non-conscious processes appear unexpectedly in consciousness while people are engaged in relatively mindless and often relaxing everyday actions such as taking showers, napping, or falling asleep.

Creatively active people have sometimes found leisurely strolls, especially those taken after lengthy or intense periods of creative work, useful in this regard. In other cases, people have attempted to consciously access these rather elusive processes by establishing what they consider to be particularly helpful external conditions which are often characterized by lack of distractions and a sense of peace and quiet. Reliance upon these marginally-controllable and unpredictably effective processes can also stir feelings of anxiety and self-doubt similar to those elicited by reliance upon experimentation and guided trial and error.

The challenge to creative people is to arrange external and internal conditions which facilitate conscious contact with the products of these non-conscious processes and to understand and manage the anxieties sometimes associated with reliance upon them.  The corresponding challenge to those who manage creative environments is to help make such times and places available and to help people understand and manage the feelings of anxiety and self-doubt sometimes associated with dependence upon these processes.

Physical materials and tools. Many forms of creative activity require the use of certain physical materials, tools, and instruments such as specialized paints and brushes, appropriate clay and glazes, potters wheels, and kilns. The challenge to creative environments is to contain and provide access to such materials and tools and the challenge to creative people is to gain access to them.

Assistants. Creative activities initially undertaken as one-person projects sometimes require more knowledge and specialized skills than one person can provide. The resulting challenge to the creative agents is to accept their need for assistants and to locate and recruit them. The corresponding challenge to creative environments is to help people identify and accept their need for assistance, to contain and provide easy access to relevant assistants.

Solitary activity. Many autonomous creators work in settings in which they have little or no contact with other people for several hours at a time. Although this solitariness suits some people very well, and may in fact be one reason they have gravitated to these activities, the solitariness may be problematic for more extraverted people. The challenge to creative environments is to provide opportunities for solitary creators to engage in social interactions as desired.

Tentative completion. Creative projects must eventually be brought to initial completions despite the imperfections and undeveloped possibilities that are often disturbingly evident to those who created them. The challenge to creative people is to complete their projects despite uncertainties as to whether they are good enough to submit to the wider world. The corresponding challenge to creative environments is to contain peers or experts who can help creators make good decisions about when to consider a project finished.

Projection into and reception by the outside world. If creative products are to provide those who create them with the sociallycontingent benefits they need and desire and if the products are to benefit people for whom they were created (their intended audiences) they must be projected into the outside world and made visible to audiences that are capable of recognizing, rewarding, and responding to them in motivationally satisfying and practically valuable ways. The challenge to autonomous creators is to find ways by which their finished projects can be brought to the attention of such audiences. The challenge to extended creative environments is to: (1) contain audiences which are able to derive or create value from those new products and are able and willing to direct psychological, social, and monetary resources back to the original creative agents and to those who helped bring the products to the attention of the relevant audiences, and (2) contain intermediaries (e.g., agents, publishers, gallery owners) and social systems that help bring new products to the attention of such audiences, and (3) contain social mechanisms by which appreciative audience members are able to directly or indirectly reward those who created the valued products and to those who brought the products to their attention.

The challenge to creators is to be flexible and extremely persistent in trying to push their work into the world. It is worth noting that J. K. Rowling’s efforts to solicit interest in her initial Harry Potter drafts were rejected by 12 publishers before finding one that was receptive. Books and online columns directed to artists, especially young artists, consistently recommend persistence in the face of rejections by juried shows, galleries, and other gatekeepers that are preventing their work from being seen.

Characteristics of Sought-Out and Constructed Environments

The actions taken by autonomously creative people to seek out and construct creative environments for themselves constitute another interesting source of information regarding the nature of creative environments. Descriptions of those actions and the nature of the sought-out and constructed environment have been reported by autonomously creative people themselves as well as by journalists, biographers, sociologists, and historians. The following topics are frequently mentioned in these descriptions:

1. Designated and protected workspaces.

2. Socially permeable and familiar workspaces.

3. Writers and artists groups, clubs, collectives and cooperatives.

4. Artists and writers colonies and retreats

5. Creative cities and neighborhoods.

6. Supportive spouses, partners, and friends.

Designated and protected workspaces. Many autonomously creative people involved in relatively solitary activity construct or seek out primary places of work which may be described as “designated and protected” workspaces. These spaces take many forms, including that of tables, desks, offices, backyard studios, garages, basements, lofts, work-live spaces, barns, re-purposed warehouses, and secluded cabins. These spaces are “designated” in the sense that they are intended to be used primarily or exclusively as the person’s central place of creative work. They are “protected” in the sense that those who use them often make clear to other people that the spaces are not to be intruded upon, re-arranged, or “cleaned up” without permission. The “protected” quality of these spaces certainly calls to mind Virginia Woolf’s famous suggestion to aspiring young women writers that they should manage to obtain rooms of their own “with a lock on the door” (Wolf, 1929).

Some creators also try to make these work-spaces quickly accessible by establishing them within or very near the structures in which they live, though others find it easier to maintain the designated and protected quality of these workspaces if they work elsewhere.  Ideally these spaces can be equipped and arranged to suit the user’s work style and preferences for such matters as décor, lighting, and the presence or absence of background music. Such workspaces serve many functions in the process of supporting their users’ creative activities.

Help sustain uninterrupted work. For many creators, the most valuable aspect of such spaces is the fact that they provide the physical and psychological space needed to engage in the uninterrupted and undistracted periods of absorbed, concentrated, and sometimes meditative thought which are so often crucial to their creative work.

Encourage and support self-imposed work schedules. The existence of designated and easily accessible workspaces also appears to encourage some creators to begin their work on self-imposed schedules, a function which organizations often provide people working within them but which autonomous creative agents must provide themselves.

Preserve work-in-progress. By permitting people to leave work-in-progress (e.g., unfinished canvases, pages ending in mid-sentence, partially completed gadgets, etc.) safely undisturbed between periods of work, these work-spaces reduce set-up time, but more importantly, help people quickly re-enter their previous frames of mind and easily pick up threads of thought which were laid to rest at the end of their last period of work.

Safe space for small “failures”. Such settings also function as psychologically “safe” spaces in which it is possible to engage in the frequently unsuccessful experiments, explorations, and partially-guided trials-and-errors so often characteristic of creative work without fear of having others witness these many small “failures”.

Motivational support. Such workspaces sometimes provide modest motivational support and encouragement in at least three ways. Because they can be arranged to meet the creative worker’s individual tastes, they can enhance the pleasure experienced while working within them. In addition, if such spaces are used almost exclusively for creative work, the simple act of entering them may sometimes trigger the kind of focused creative work that has come to be associated with that space. Furthermore, if these spaces have been the site of previously successful work, they may reduce project-related anxieties by eliciting memories of those earlier successes.  Accessible materials and tools. Such work-spaces facilitate creative work by making the necessary materials and tools and often specialized information easily accessible.

Exceptions; It should be noted, that some very fortunate and flexible writers have reported that they can work anywhere they can physically write and therefor need no special places in which to do their work. 

Socially permeable and familiar workspaces. Designated and protected work settings do not meet the needs of people whose circumstances prevent their using them such as parents who must work within sight and sound of people who they caretaker. J. K.  Rowling, for instance, famously wrote parts of her first Harry Potter novels sitting in a neighborhood cafe with her infant resting in a nearby stroller, and a coffee machine moments away.

Familiar coffee shops, cafes, restaurants, and local libraries. Designated and protected workspaces also don’t meet the social needs of people who find them too isolating. As a result autonomously creative writers who need to work in more social settings often turn to familiar and accommodating coffee shops, cafes, restaurants, and local libraries as places to work near other people. For decades, autonomously creative people in Europe and the United States have used cafés, bars, and restaurants as places to work as well as places to meet and mingle with one another, typically at the end of their frequently solitary workdays. The café life of Vienna and Paris, for example, has often been cited as an important factor in sustaining the creative ferment of these two cities. Historians and sociologists of art and literature have also cited the roles played by particular bars in the emergence and development of bebop jazz in Harlem in the 1940s, the New York School of artists and poets in the 1940s and 1950s, and the development of the beat poets in San Francisco’s North Beach in the 1950s. In such settings creative people are able to satisfy some of their needs for social contact. Here, too, they are able to participate in conversations and creative interactions with other creatively-active and intellectually-lively people who expose them to new and, perhaps, the very newest, ideas, perspectives and methods in their field of work. Valuable information about possible venues and outlets for their work and about intermediaries who might help project their work into the larger world is also sometimes exchanged and in these conversations. Within such gathering places, autonomously creative people also sometimes experience implicit affirmations regarding the importance and ultimate value of the kind of work in which they are engaged as well as more personally-directed expressions of encouragement and advice.

Co-working spaces and writers rooms. Recent years have seen the emergence of increasing numbers of co-working spaces which serve some of the physical and social needs of autonomously creative people. These co-working spaces, (or “writers rooms” in the case of those exclusively serving writers) typically offer private and semi-protected workspaces as well as communal spaces that can be used to socialize and exchange information relevant to their work. Some co-working spaces include communal spaces that have been specifically designed or configured to facilitate potentially synergistic exchanges of information and possible collaborations between creatively-active people working in different fields.

Informal groups and clubs. Autonomously creative people also seek creative support and stimulation by creating or joining local writing or artists groups in which they can share work-in-progress, explore thoughts regarding possible future projects, and receive constructive critiques in supportive environments.

Collectives and cooperatives. Autonomously creative artists sometimes attempt to facilitate their own work by affiliating with artists’ collectives and co-operatives. In such settings artists are able to share space, materials, equipment, ideas, perspectives, and experience what they often describe as “good energy”.

Artists and writers colonies. Every year, thousands of autonomous artists and writers apply to attend one of the hundreds of artists and writers colonies located in the United States. The qualities of some of the most prestigious of these colonies such as Yaddo in New York and MacDowell in New Hampshire, reveal much about the kind of working environments which many, though not all, independent writers and artists desire. In both of these colonies artists enjoy 24-h access to designated and protected work-spaces in the form of appropriately-equipped studios. Lunches are typically delivered to the individual cabins or studios in ways designed not to interrupt work. Relieved of almost all non-work-related responsibilities and distractions and provided with designated, protected, and well-equipped workspaces, residents are able to focus essentially all of their energy and attention upon their creative work. Communal dinners and gatherings in the evenings provide opportunities for residents to socialize, exchange ideas, and share work in progress. Though such colonies do not fit the needs of all autonomously creative people, due in large part to the separation from family they require, and though access to such colonies is sharply limited, the appeal they hold for many autonomously creative people is instructive.

Creatively-active cities and neighborhoods. In seeking creative environments in which to live and work, autonomously creative artists and writers are sometimes drawn to cities and neighborhoods that are heavily and often unusually densely populated with people involved in creative activities similar to their own. As mentioned earlier, Paris, New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are famous examples of such cities, although they are certainly not alone in this respect. The following reasons explain why certain cities function as magnets for creatively ambitious people as well as serving as incubators and sustainers of their creative work.

Populous, culturally diverse, and historically and contemporaneously supportive of the arts. Such cities typically contain:

• large numbers of other creators with whom ideas and enthusiasms can be shared,

• affordable spaces in which to live and work

• rich supplies of necessary and sometimes specialized materials

• potential assistants who have specialized skills

• patrons, benefactors, and sponsors who are interested in supporting autonomous creators.

• diverse and sophisticated audiences eager for new creative products.

• sophisticated intermediaries such as critics, talent scouts, and agents who are interested in identifying producers of new and creative work and connecting them and their work with relevant audiences

• numerous outlets and venues such as galleries, bookstores, exhibition halls, and public readings by which new creative work can be displayed to relevant audiences and potential patrons;

Informationally-and-sensorially rich cross-roads. These unusually creative cities also tend to be cross-roads through which people from many countries, cultures, and traditions frequently pass and destinations and to which they sometimes come to live and work. In so doing such people bring steady streams of creativity-relevant information and creative seeds in the form of new ideas, values, knowledge, images, colors, sounds, tastes, tools, and ways of thinking and doing things.

Attractors of creatively talented and ambitious people. Because of their creativogenic qualities, these cities tend to continue attracting creatively-talented and ambitious people from across continents and oceans, thus swelling the numbers of creatively-inclined people living and working in relatively close proximity to one another. Such increased numbers and densities tend to increase the likelihood that creative neighborhoods emerge, that planned and unplanned interactions among creatively-active people occur, and that ideas, enthusiasms, materials, work-spaces, and gathering places might be shared. As a result of these processes, of course, such cities tend to foster ever higher levels of creativity and become even more attractive to creatively ambitious people who might gravitate toward them. At certain points, however, such cities may become so saturated with people engaging in certain types of creativity that their capacity to support and attract new creators in certain fields wanes.

Creative cities not for all and not necessary. Autonomously creative people certainly do not need to live and work in creative cities to do their creative work. In the first place, many people simply do not like cities as places to live or are prohibited by practical considerations from doing so. In addition, many creative people do not wish to lose their sense of place, comfort, and belonging by moving to a city. Others do not want to be distracted from their work by the many seductive possibilities that cities offer, to become overly influenced by the highly visible and much-talked-about creative work of other people, or to experience themselves as little fish in big ponds.

Autonomously creative people have also begun reporting that new modes of communication and new ways of displaying and advertising their work made possible by the latest technologies are diminishing some of the creative advantages previously afforded by physical proximity to creative colleagues, potential patrons, audiences, and intermediaries. Many autonomously creative people are able to find and establish good working environments and creatively supportive local environments in smaller cities and towns.  For example, writers groups and artists co-operatives can be established almost anywhere that a few similarly-intentioned writers and artists reside.

It should also be noted that many creative people who are attracted by some of the benefits of unusually creative cities but deterred by others, resolve their dilemmas by locating themselves outside of but within easy reach of such cities.  Supportive spouses, partners, and friends. In any location, supportive spouses, partners, and friends often play important roles in the lives and work of autonomously creative people For example, autonomously creative people often acknowledge the important role played by people with whom they live in helping to establish and protect their workplaces. Spouses and partners are also often thanked for tolerating work patterns that sometimes deviate substantially from the social norm, by occasionally freeing up work time by relieving the creatively active person of some household obligations, and by tolerating problematic behaviors and mental states sometimes associated with intense involvement in creative activity. Spouses, partners and friends are also frequently identified as influential sources of personal encouragement and as people who affirm the fundamental value and importance of the kind of creative work being done. In some cases spouses and partners also serve as sounding-boards, first audiences, helpful critics, and friendly editors.


Variability among good creative environments. Creatively-inclined people differ from one another in many respects. As a consequence, the environments and settings within which they will flourish creatively undoubtedly differ in ways that reflect those individual differences. As noted earlier in this chapter, for example, the conditions preferred by easily and not easily distractible people or by relatively extraverted and relatively introverted people may differ in substantial ways. Furthermore, the conditions, settings, and environments supportive of one type of creative activity, such as writing a novel, may not be most supportive of other types of creativity, such as producing a series of thematically related canvases or pieces of pottery. As a consequence, the environmental conditions most helpful to any particular creator working on any particular project may not be the most helpful to other people working on other projects. This suggests that the ideal macro-environment for creative people is probably one within which autonomously creative people have the freedom to migrate to or construct whatever particular environments best suit their individualand project-specific needs.

Many of the varied environments constructed or sought out by autonomous creators would exhibit at least some of the environmental features and functions described here. The degree to which this proposition is true for autonomous writer and artists, of course, remains to be seen, as does the degree to which the analyses presented here generalize to other types of creative activity.

Creative Environments Helpful but Not Necessary

It is extremely important to recognize and emphasize the fact that very good environments are neither necessary nor sufficient for creativity to occur. As history shows, acts of creativity can and do emerge from very difficult or even hostile conditions, and as history also shows, creative efforts undertaken in highly supportive environments often fail. [...]


Bello, F., 1959. The magic that make Polaroid. Fortune 59, 124–129.

Woolf, V., 1929. A Room of One’s Own. Houghton Mifflen, New York, NY.

Further Reading

Ghiselin, B. (Ed.), 1985. The Creative Process. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Hall, P., 1998. Cities in Civilization. Pantheon, New York, NY.

Krementz, J., 1996. The Writer’s Desk. Random House, New York, NY.

MacNeal, R., 2005. Artists Communities: A Directory of Residencies that Offer Time and Space for Creativity, third ed. Allworth Press, New York, NY.

Rosenberg, B., Fliegel, N., 1965. The Vanguard Artist. Quadrangle Books, Chicago, Ill.

Relevant Websites

312 Famous Artists and Their Studios. https://www.boredpanda.com/famous-artists-and-their-muses-in-their-studios

Brief introduction and portal to hundreds of Artists colonies in the United States as of 2019. https://www.artistcommunities.org/residencies.

The perfect artist studio. What does your art studio look like? Your ideal studio would have? https://www.pinterest.com/mdfineart/artists-studios/?lp¼true.

Yaddo colony. http://yaddo.org/.

MacDowell colony. http://www.macdowellcolony.org/.