Insomnia and intellect mask the positive link between schizotypal traits and creativity

Bertalan Polner, Péter Simor, Szabolcs Kéri

Research output: Article


Background. Schizotypy is a set of personality traits that resemble the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia in the general population, and it is associated with various subclinical mental health problems, including sleep disturbances. Additionally, dimensions of schizotypy show specific but weak associations with creativity. Given that creativity demands cognitive control and mental health, and that sleep disturbances negatively impact cognitive control, we predicted that positive, impulsive and disorganised schizotypy will demonstrate stronger associations with indicators of creativity, if the effect of mental health, insomnia, and intellect are statistically controlled. Methods. University students (N = 182) took part in the study. Schizotypy was assessed with the shortened Oxford-Liverpool Inventory of Feelings and Experiences (sO-LIFE). Creative achievements were measured with the Creative Achievement Questionnaire (CAQ), divergent thinking was assessed with the ‘Just suppose’ task, and remote association problem solving was tested with Compound Remote Associate (CRA) problems. Mental health was assessed with the 12-item version of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12), and insomnia was examined with the Athens Insomnia Scale (AIS). Verbal short term memory was measured with the forward digit span task, and intellect was assessed with the Rational-Experiential Inventory (REI). Multiple linear regressions were performed to examine the relationship between creativity and schizotypy. Indicators of creativity were the dependent variables. In the first block, dimensions of schizotypy, age, gender and smoking were entered, and in the second block, the models were extended with mental health, insomnia, verbal short term memory, and intellect. Results. Positive schizotypy positively predicted real-life creative achievements, independently from the positive effect of intellect. Follow-up analyses revealed that positive schizotypy predicted creative achievements in art, while higher disorganised schizotypy was associated with creative achievements in science (when intellect was controlled for). Furthermore, disorganised schizotypy positively predicted remote association problem solving performance, if insomnia and verbal short term memory were statistically controlled. No dimension of schizotypy was significantly associated with divergent thinking. Discussion. In line with previous findings, positive schizotypy predicted real-life creative achievements. The positive effects of disorganised schizotypy might be explained in terms of the simultaneous involvement of enhanced semantic priming and cognitive control in problem solving. We speculate that the lack of associations between divergent thinking and schizotypy might be related to instruction effects. Our study underscores the relevance of sleep impairment to the psychosis-spectrum, and refines our knowledge about the adaptive aspects of schizotypy in the general population.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere5615
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - jan. 1 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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