Autistic and positive schizotypal traits respectively predict better convergent and divergent thinking performance

Ahmad Abu-Akel, Margaret E. Webb, Emilie de Montpellier, Sophie Von Bentivegni, Lyn Luechinger, Alessandro Ishii, Christine Mohr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Creativity is considered essential to the advancement of every society. To measure creativity, researchers frequently assess divergent and convergent thinking, which vary widely between individuals. Some of these variances could be explained by individual difference measures. Promising are positive schizotypy (e.g., magical ideation, unusual experiences) and autistic traits (e.g., attention to detail, social communication deficits). These trait dimensions have been putatively associated with enhanced divergent and convergent thinking, respectively. Moreover, performance advantages are hypothesized to manifest in individuals who are good in both thinking styles, and by inference in individuals who are high on both positive schizotypy and autistic traits. We tested these assumptions in 142 healthy individuals (45% males) recruited from Social Sciences, Engineering, and Arts and Design schools. Individuals completed the Alternative Uses Task (divergent thinking), solved anagrams (convergent thinking), and completed validated self-report schizotypy and autistic trait questionnaires. Results indicated that i) positive schizotypy predicted better performance on the divergent thinking task (higher scores in fluency and originality), ii) autistic traits predicted better performance on the convergent thinking task (more anagram solutions), and iii) having high levels on both positive schizotypy and autistic traits was associated with best performance on the convergent thinking task. These results indicate that particular trait dimensions can predict specific thinking styles underlying creativity. If true, self-report questionnaires may be promising in identifying individuals who can inspire creative solutions for challenges that demand divergence and/or convergence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100656
JournalThinking Skills and Creativity
StatePublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Luc Bergeron (University of Art and Design Lausanne, ECAL) and Giordano Favi (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, EPFL) for their help in participant recruitment.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Divergent thinking
  • autism
  • convergent thinking
  • creativity
  • schizotypy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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