Top Books, Studies, And Articles On Mental Energy


Book Summary & Highlights: Exuberance: The Passion For Life By Kay Redfield JamisonBook Summary & Highlights: Exuberance: The Passion For Life By Kay Redfield JamisonBook Summary & Highlights: Grit By Angela DuckworthBook Summary & Highlights: Grit By Angela DuckworthBook Summary & Highlights: The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (A Little) Craziness and (A Lot of) Success in America By John GartnerBook Summary & Highlights: The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (A Little) Craziness and (A Lot of) Success in America By John Gartner


Study: Vocational Interests Assessed
at the End of High School Predict
Life Outcomes Assessed 10 Years
Later over and above IQ and Big
Five Personality TraitsStudy: Vocational Interests Assessed at the End of High School Predict Life Outcomes Assessed 10 Years Later over and above IQ and Big Five Personality TraitsStudy: The Nature and Power of InterestsStudy: The Nature and Power of InterestsStudy: Mental Energy (Editorial)Study: Mental Energy (Editorial)Study:  The effects of intrinsic motivation on mental fatigueStudy: The effects of intrinsic motivation on mental fatigueStudy: Interest development, self-related information processing, and practiceStudy: Interest development, self-related information processing, and practiceStudy: Interest congruence and performance: Revisiting recent meta-analytic findingsStudy: Interest congruence and performance: Revisiting recent meta-analytic findingsStudy: Study:


Studies Showing A Link Between Number Of Interests & Success (# of interests as a proxy for success)

Catherine Cox argued that among historical personages, the more creative an individual was, the more varied their intense interests (Cox, 1926, Table 41).
Cox, C. M. (1926). The early mental traits of three hundred geniuses. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
R. K. White found similarly that “the typical genius surpasses the typical college graduate in range of interests and...he surpasses him in range of ability” (White, 1931, p. 482).
White, R. K. (1931). The versatility of genius. Journal of Social Psychology, 2, 482.
Lewis Terman summarized his findings concerning gifted individuals by saying that “Except in music and the arts, which draw heavily on specialized abilities, there are few persons who achieved great eminence in one field without displaying more than average ability in one or more other fields” (quoted from Seagoe, 1975, p. 221).
Seagoe, M. (1975). Terman and the gifted. Los Altos, CA: W. Kaufmann.
Eliot Dole Hutchinson similarly concluded in his 1959 study of creative individuals that multiple talents were the norm: “It is not by accident that in the greatest minds professions disappear.... Such men are not scientists, artist, musicians, when they might have just as well have been something else. They are creators” (Hutchinson, 1959, pp. 150–152)
Wertheimer, M. (1959). Productive thinking. New York: Harper. A Contemporary Perspective on the Psychology of Productive Thinking • Co-founder of gestalt
Finally, Roberta Milgram has found that career success in any discipline is better correlated with one or more intellectually stimulating and intensive avocational interests than IQ, grades, standardized test scores, or any combination of these (Milgram & Hong, 1993).
Milgram, R., & Hong, E. (1993). Creative thinking and creative performance in adolescents as predictors of creative attainments in adults: A follow-up study after 18 years. In R. Subotnik & K. Arnold (Eds.), Beyond Terman: Longitudinal studies in contemporary gifted education. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Historian of science Paul Cranefield found that among the men who founded the discipline of biophysics during the mid-19th century (a group including Helmholtz, Mueller, and Du Bois-Reymond among its stellar cast), there was a direct correlation between the number and range of avocations each individual pursued, the number of major discoveries he made, and his subsequent status as a scientist (Cranefield, 1966).
Cranefield, P. (1966). The philosophical and cultural interests of the biophysics movement of 1847. Journal of the History of Medicine, 21, 1–7.
The earliest study suggesting such a correlation was performed by J. H. van’t Hoff (who became the first Nobel laureate in Chemistry in 1901) in 1878. He noted that virtually all of the scientists from Kepler and Galileo through Newton, Davy, and Priestley excelled at arts such as poetry, painting, and music and were often deeply engaged in non-conformist spiritual or religious activities as well (van’t Hoff, 1878)
Early studies of other pools of eminent scientists and mathematicians by Ostwald (1907–1909, 1909), Moebius (1900), Fehr (1912), and Hadamard (1945) confirmed van’t Hoff’s observation, but all of these studies were based on small, uncontrolled, investigator-selected samples.
Root-Bernstein and his collaborators performed the first studies to compare the avocational interests of eminent scientists with those of average achievement. The initial investigation involved 40 young scientists recruited in 1955 by Bernice Eiduson for the first (and perhaps only) longitudinal psychological study of scientists over the course of their careers. Each scientist was interviewed and given a variety of psychological tests every 5 years through 1980. The 40 scientists diverged widely in their achievements. Four won Nobel Prizes by 1985 and they and seven additional colleagues had been elected to the US National Academy of sciences. These 11 scientists would clearly qualify for the label “gifted” under the criteria being employed here. At the other extreme, several scientists had failed to obtain tenure and had obtained non-academic positions, while another dozen or so had quite average academic careers. Various other measures of success such as number of publications, number of citations, and impact factors all correlated well with various assessments of success (RootBernstein, Bernstein, & Garnier, 1993). A survey of the scientists in 1988 determined the number and types of their adult avocations and these were then correlated with the scientists’ publication, citation, and impact factor data and evaluated in light of their previous interviews.Significant correlations were found between the number of adult avocations each scientist participated in and their success, as well as between specific avocations and success. Scientists who painted and drew were very significantly more likely to be among the Nobelists and National Academy members than were those who did not. Those who wrote poetry, did photography, or participated in various technical crafts, and those who had the widest range of hobbies were also more likely than the average scientist to be recognized as influential by their peers (RootBernstein, Bernstein, & Garnier, 1995). Unexpectedly, musical avocations had no predictive value for success as a scientist in this group, perhaps because they were equally common among gifted and average scientists.Notably, a very significant correlation also existed between the kinds of mental “tools” that the scientists used (such as visual thinking and kinesthetic thinking) and the type of avocations they pursued (painters tend to be visual thinkers, poets verbal thinkers, etc.). A further set of significant correlations were then found between the types of mental tools used by each scientist and their likelihood of success. Various forms of visual thinking (3D, 2D, graphic, etc.), kinesthetic feelings, and verbal/auditory patterns were each independently correlated with success, as was employing a greater-than-average range of modes of thinking. Thus, avocations may reflect or even build a range of mental skills that complement or enhance logico-mathematical thinking among scientists (Root-Bernstein et al., 1995).Interviews with the scientists (all of which were done many years prior to and independently of the survey of avocations, and therefore could not have been influenced by the survey) revealed that many were, like Einstein, conscious of the role that their avocations played in promoting their scientific creativity. One unusually adept experimentalist and Nobel Prize winner said that “I have a big tendency to use my hands and I also have a tendency to use my intellect. Well, the sciences are a great way of combining these operations and there aren’t too many professions that do that.... My concept of the ideal ’scientist,’ is that you do one thing real well, and its a very specialized thing, and then you do a lot of other things, but not too many, maybe 5 or 6 or 10 different other things, which you do well enough to give yourself and possibly others pleasure. This should be distributed quite widely among sports and artistic things and carpentry, and things that involve using your hands and a little music, perhaps and things of that sort” (quoted from Root-Bernstein et al., 1995, p. 136). Another Nobel laureate said, “Every scientist realizes in his science only a small portion of his total ability. I suppose that’s true in general – that you don’t do everything you’re capable of by a big factor. I don’t” (quoted from Root-Bernstein et al., 1995, p. 136). Avocations were a way of employing some of his only partially used abilities. And a member of the National Academy rationalized his own interest in music by saying, “[Suppose] someone is getting interested in musical problems. He may then apply what he finds there back to his scientific research. That’s something which may affect very much the result. I think it’s good. I think for a scientist who is working very hard, anything is good which brings from time to time another angle about general ideas into the picture” (quoted from Root-Bernstein et al., 1995, p. 136). Yet other gifted scientists recounted how building things, electronics hobbies, photography, and other avocations developed skills and knowledge that they employed in their scientific work. Thus, like Einstein, the polymathic individuals in the Eiduson study wove their vocational and avocational interests into integrated networks of mutually reinforcing enterprise. On the other hand, the least successful scientists in the study not only had fewer avocations than the successful ones, but almost universally considered these avocations as distractions that competed with their work.
Root-Bernstein, R. S., Bernstein, M., & Garnier, H. (1993). Identification of scientists making long-term high-impact contributions, with notes on their methods of working. Creativity Research Journal, 6, 329–343.
The results of the Eiduson study have been validated by investigation of a larger pool of scientists. In 1936, Sigma Xi, the National Research Organization, a US-based society for scientists, surveyed its membership about their avocations. This survey provides baseline data for average-to-above-average scientists during the first half of the 20th century. These data were compared with avocations mentioned in biographical and autobiographical writings of Nobel Prize winners in Chemistry from 1901 through 2000. Data on avocations were found for approximately 70% of the laureates. The most conservative treatment of the data show that Nobel laureates are twice as likely to play a musical instrument as the Sigma Xi members; 5 times as likely to engage in crafts; 8 times more likely to engage in a visual art; 10 times more likely to write poetry or fiction; and more than 20 times more likely to engage in a performing art such as acting or dancing as an adult (Root-Bernstein & Root-Bernstein, 2004). All of these differences were very highly statistically significant.
Root-Bernstein, R. S., & Root-Bernstein, M. M. (2004). Artistic scientists and scientific artists: The link between polymathy and creativity. In R. J. Sternberg, E. L. Grigorenko E. L., & Singer, J. L. (Eds.), Creativity: From potential to realization (pp. 127–152). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
The English polymath, Francis Galton found that polymathy was unusually common 268 Robert Root-Bernstein Part III among members of the British Royal Society (Galton, 1874).
Botanist P. J. Moebius, the grandson of the famous mathematician, and the Frenchman Henri Fehr both noted independently the unusually high incidence of artistic and musical proclivities among two large groups of mathematicians (Fehr, 1912; Moebius, 1900).
Fehr, H. (1912). Enquete de l’enseignmement mathematique sur la methode de travail des mathematiciens. Paris: Gauthier-Villars; Geneva; George et Cie. Moebius, P. J. (1900). Ueber die anlage zur mathetmatik. Leipzig: Barth.
Jacques Hadamard confirmed these findings several decades later in his classic, The Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field (Hadamard, 1945).
Hadamard, J. (1945). The psychology of invention in the mathematical field. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press
Subsequent cognitive studies have tended to validate the notion that the versatility of genius provides useful mental skills. For example, studies by Rauscher et al. and Gardiner et al. have suggested that direct relationships may exist between art and musical skills and improved spatial and mathematical reasoning in children (Graziana, Petterson & Shaw, 1999; Gardiner et al., 1996, p. 284; Rauscher, Shaw & Ky, 1997).
Graziana, Petterson & Shaw, 1999 Gardiner, M. F., Fox, A., Knowles, F. & Jeffrey, D. (1996). Learning improved by arts training. Nature, 381, 284. Rauscher, F. H., Shaw, G. L. & Ky, K. N. (1997). Music training causes long-term enhancement of preschool children’s spatial-temporal reasoning. Neurological Research, 19, 2–8.
Creative Geniuses, Polymaths, Child Prodigies, and Autistic Savants: The Ambivalent Function of Interests and Obsessions
To be sure, not every creative genius is a polymath, and many will be far narrower in the scope of their creative achievements, whatever the breadth of their interests might be. To get a better idea of the phenomenon, we can turn to an empirical study of 2,102 creative geniuses (Cassandro, 1998). All creators were assessed on their versatility, which was defined by achieving eminence in more than one domain or subdomain (see also Simonton, 1976; White, 1931). Although 61% did not demonstrate versatility according to this definition, 15% attained eminence in more than one subdomain within a domain (e.g., poetry and drama within literature; such as William Shakespeare), and fully 24% achieved eminence in more than one domain (e.g., literature and science; such as Johann Wolfgang Goethe). Thus, more than one-third exhibited creative versatility to some degree.
Cassandro, V. J. (1998). Explaining premature mortality across fields of creative endeavor. Journal of Personality, 66, 805–833.
Creative Geniuses, Polymaths, Child Prodigies, and Autistic Savants: The Ambivalent Function of Interests and Obsessions
Furthermore, creative versatility appears to be positively correlated with achieved eminence (Simonton, 1976; Sulloway, 1996). The double- or triple-threat creator tends to become more eminent than the specialist creator. Accordingly, we cannot dismiss the connection by saying that these versatile creators have their expertise diluted to the level of mere dilettantes.
Simonton, D. K. (1976). Biographical determinants of achieved eminence: A multivariate approach to the Cox data. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 33, 218–226 Sulloway, F. J. (1996). Born to rebel: Birth order, family dynamics, and creative lives. New York: Pantheon.
The Big Five personality dimension Openness/Intellect is the trait most closely associated with creativity and creative achievement. Little is known, however, regarding the discriminant validity of its two aspects—Openness to Experience (reflecting cognitive engagement with perception, fantasy, aesthetics, and emotions) and Intellect (reflecting cognitive engagement with abstract and semantic information, primarily through reasoning)—in relation to creativity. In four demographically diverse samples totaling 1,035 participants, we investigated the independent predictive validity of Openness and Intellect by assessing the relations among cognitive ability, divergent thinking, personality, and creative achievement across the arts and sciences. We confirmed the hypothesis that whereas Openness predicts creative achievement in the arts, Intellect predicts creative achievement in the sciences. Inclusion of performance measures of general cognitive ability and divergent thinking indicated that the relation of Intellect to scientific creativity may be due at least in part to these abilities. Lastly, we found that Extraversion additionally predicted creative achievement in the arts, independently of Openness. Results are discussed in the context of dual-process theory.[...]
Openness to Experience and Intellect Differentially Predict Creative Achievement in the Arts and Sciences
Consistent with prior research, Openness/Intellect emerged as the most robust and consistent Big Five predictor of creative achievement across the arts and sciences (e.g., Batey & Furnham, 2006; Carson et al., 2005; Feist, 1998; Silvia, Kaufman, & Pretz, 2009).
Batey, M., & Furnham, A. (2006). Creativity, intelligence, and personality: A critical review of the scattered literature. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 132, 355–429 Carson, S. H., Peterson, J. B., & Higgins, D. M. (2005). Reliability, validity, and factor structure of the Creative Achievement Questionnaire. Creativity Research Journal, 17, 37–50. Feist, G. J., & Barron, F. X. (2003). Predicting creativity from early to late adulthood: Intellect, potential, and personality. Journal of Research in Personality, 37, 62–88. Silvia, P. J., Kaufman, J. C., & Pretz, J. E. (2009). Is creativity domain-specific? Latent class models of creative accomplishments and creative self-descriptions. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 3, 139–148.