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September 1983

Psychopathology and Creative CognitionA Comparison of Hospitalized Patients, Nobel Laureates, and Controls

Author Affiliations

From the Austen Riggs Center, Stockbridge, Mass.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1983;40(9):937-942. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1983.01790080019002

• To assess a tendency to rapid opposite responding associated with the type of creative cognition called janusian thinking, timed word association tests were administered to 12 creative scientists who were Nobel laureates, 18 hospitalized patients, and 113 college students divided as controls into high and low creative groups. Nobel laureates gave the highest proportion of opposite responses at the fastest rate of all groups, whereas patients gave the lowest proportion of opposite responses at the slowest rate. Both Nobel laureates and high creative students gave opposite responses at a significantly faster rate than they gave common, popular (nonopposite) responses, and their average speed of opposite response was fast enough to indicate that conceptualizing opposites could have been simultaneous. The results support the connection between janusian thinking and creativity and indicate a distinction between creative and psychopathologic cognitive modes.