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“I’m tired of pretending I’m not a total bitching rock star from Mars:” The Introversion of Rock Stars

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There have been a few interesting articles in The Huffington Post about the nature of the creative personality that have caught my attention. Today, an article by Scott Barry Kaufman called “After the Show: The Many Faces of the Performer,” really captured my interest.

I am, by no stretch of the imagination, a performer, per se. I have a little to no desire to appear on stage, except in the occasional rock-star front-woman fantasy that is always undermined by the fact that I can’t sing. But I was surprised to find that I had a lot more in common with other “creative” types of, what I previously considered, a more extroverted nature. I’ve recently been exploring and struggling with the nature of a seemingly dual personality, in which people who meet me in a social context find me extroverted, forward, and occasionally abrasive or judgmental, but internally I feel shy, thoughtful, and need a lot of downtime so that I can recharge my energy, which gets easily drained when I interact with the outside world.

Apparently rock-stars aren’t so different from me. Kaufman cites Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s 1996 study of creative types which resulted in these findings.

“Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted. We’re usually one or the other, either preferring to be in the thick of crowds or sitting on the sidelines and observing the passing show. In fact, in psychological research, extroversion and introversion are considered the most stable personality traits that differentiate people from each other and that can be reliability measured. Creative individuals, on the other hand, seem to exhibit both traits simultaneously.

Kaufman goes on to analyze a personality study conducted by psychologist Jennifer O. Grimes of 21 hard-rock musicians she found at Ozzfest, of all places. The study reveals the complex personalities of these creative types, and the intricacies of their nature, with elements that go way beyond that hard-partying/jamming on stage stereotype. Another study by Gil Greengross and Geoffrey Miller analyzed the personality of comedians and humor writers and revealed the stark contrast between the comics public personas and their true selves:

“The public perceives comedians as ostentatious and flashy. Their persona on stage is often mistakenly seen interchangeably with their real personality, and the jokes they tell about their lives are considered by many to have a grain of truth in them. However, the results of this study suggest that the opposite is true. Perhaps comedians use their performance to disguise who they are in their daily life. Comedians may portray someone they want to be, or perhaps their act is a way to defy the constraints imposed on their everyday events and interactions with others.”

This is an intriguing article that should be read by anyone who is a creative professional, or perhaps someone who knows a creative-type and is continuously mystified by them. For the complete article, click here.


One response »

  1. Did you score both as introverted AND extroverted on that personality test we took in middle school health class, too?


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