Personality traits and environment: The effects of observing visual art on verbal creativity

Rotem Leshem, Shahar Himan Heltai, Nira Mashal

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Figurative language is one of the most prevalent expressions of verbal creativity, and use of novel metaphors is the most significant source of verbal innovation. As environmental and personality trait factors can impact creativity, the current study aimed to examine whether exposure to an environment rich in visual stimuli (artwork) and verbal stimuli (novel metaphors) contributes to verbal creativity, taking into account the personality trait of “openness to experience.” Study participants (132) were divided into three groups: (1) a group exposed to a creative verbal environment (reading novel metaphors), (2) a group exposed to a visually creative environment (observing abstract and figurative artwork), and (3) a group not exposed to any creative environment. Participants completed personality questionnaire and a metaphor generation questionnaire that asked participants to describe 10 emotions using novel metaphors. Results showed the type of creative environment exposure had a graded effect on creativity (i.e., generation of novel metaphors): the non-exposed control group generated fewer novel than conventional metaphors, the group exposed to novel verbal metaphors produced a similar number of novel and conventional metaphors, and the group exposed to artwork produced more novel than conventional metaphors. This may imply that environments containing visually creative stimuli provide opportunities for silent contemplation which in turn evoke neuropsychological mechanisms related to creative processes. Furthermore, the finding that the trait of “openness to experience” and exposure to a visually creative environment contributed to greater generation of novel metaphors suggests that creativity may be dependent on both individual and environmental factors.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNeurophysiology of Silence Part A
Subtitle of host publicationEmpirical Studies
EditorsTal Dotan Ben-Soussan, Joseph Glicksohn, Narayanan Srinivasan
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9780323995511
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Publication series

NameProgress in Brain Research


  • Creativity
  • Metaphors
  • Openness to experience
  • Visual art

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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