Distinguishing Originality from Creativity in ADHD: An Assessment of Creative Personality, Self-Perception, and Cognitive Style among Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Adults

Jean-Pierre J. Issa, Buffalo State College


Debates over whether Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) relates to high levels of creativity have been hampered by a lack of rigor when defining creativity. The purpose of the present study was to go beyond the rhetoric by empirically investigating creative personality, creative self-perception, and cognitive style among 49 ADHD adults. Comparative analysis to studies of non-ADHD samples revealed distinctive tendencies: A mean group score of 115.71 (SD=18.02) on the Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory (KAI) indicated preferences for originality, nonconformity, paradigm-breaking, and low efficiency that was over one standard deviation higher than average non-ADHD population scores. Combined inattentive/hyperactiveimpulsive subtypes (n=20) scored 124.30 (SD=12.96). Ideator tendencies on Puccio’s FourSight indicated preferences for generating novel ideas and overlooking details. Adjective Check List (ACL) scores were slightly elevated on the Domino Creative Personality and Gough Creativity scales, but more so on the Change scale, indicating a tendency to seek novelty and avoid routine. Creative self-perception was high, with 85.71% reporting themselves as more creative than average. Although their dispositions toward originality might benefit creativity, it might be undermined by their disinclination for effectiveness necessary for full-fledged creativity. Results may help clinicians distinguish maladaptive ADHD behaviors from concomitant behaviors that might play a valuable role in creativity.