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The psychology of professional and student actors: Creativity, personality, and motivation


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As a profession, acting is marked by a high-level of economic and social riskiness concomitantly with the possibility for artistic satisfaction and/or public admiration. Current understanding of the psychological attributes that distinguish professional actors is incomplete. Here, we compare samples of professional actors (n = 104), undergraduate student actors (n = 100), and non-acting adults (n = 92) on 26 psychological dimensions and use machine-learning methods to classify participants based on these attributes. Nearly all of the attributes measured here displayed significant univariate mean differences across the three groups, with the strongest effect sizes being on Creative Activities, Openness, and Extraversion. A cross-validated Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator (LASSO) classification model was capable of identifying actors (either professional or student) from non-actors with a 92% accuracy and was able to sort professional from student actors with a 96% accuracy when age was included in the model, and a 68% accuracy with only psychological attributes included. In these LASSO models, actors in general were distinguished by high levels of Openness, Assertiveness, and Elaboration, but professional actors were specifically marked by high levels of Originality, Volatility, and Literary Activities.
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The psychology of professional and student
actors: Creativity, personality, and motivation
Denis DumasID
*, Michael Doherty
, Peter Organisciak
1Department of Research Methods and Information Science, University of Denver, Denver, Colorado,
United States of America, 2Actor’s Equity Association, New York, NY, United States of America
As a profession, acting is marked by a high-level of economic and social riskiness concomi-
tantly with the possibility for artistic satisfaction and/or public admiration. Current under-
standing of the psychological attributes that distinguish professional actors is incomplete.
Here, we compare samples of professional actors (n= 104), undergraduate student actors
(n = 100), and non-acting adults (n= 92) on 26 psychological dimensions and use machine-
learning methods to classify participants based on these attributes. Nearly all of the attri-
butes measured here displayed significant univariate mean differences across the three
groups, with the strongest effect sizes being on Creative Activities, Openness, and Extraver-
sion. A cross-validated Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator (LASSO) classifi-
cation model was capable of identifying actors (either professional or student) from non-
actors with a 92% accuracy and was able to sort professional from student actors with a
96% accuracy when age was included in the model, and a 68% accuracy with only psycho-
logical attributes included. In these LASSO models, actors in general were distinguished by
high levels of Openness, Assertiveness, and Elaboration, but professional actors were spe-
cifically marked by high levels of Originality, Volatility, and Literary Activities.
In much of the industrialized world, where access to entertainment has become nearly ubiqui-
tous for many individuals, professional actors constitute a rarified population of experts who
receive high levels of attention in the popular press and in public discourse. The work of a
small number of professional actors reaches a relatively large swathe of the public, and the
average person may be exposed to the work of a professional actor far more often than they are
to the efforts of most other kinds of experts (e.g., medical or legal professionals). However,
despite the fact that it is possible for actors to reach high-levels of wealth and notoriety, the
vast majority of professional actors—even those who work consistently—make a modest wage
and have a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle more akin to blue-collared workers, rather than
other professionals [1]. In addition, most actors experience economic uncertainty throughout
their careers, with large temporal gaps in their employment, which can occur regardless of
their past success [2]. In addition, the prospect of achieving professional success for
PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 1 / 26
Citation: Dumas D, Doherty M, Organisciak P
(2020) The psychology of professional and student
actors: Creativity, personality, and motivation.
PLoS ONE 15(10): e0240728.
Editor: Paolo Roma, Sapienza, University of Rome,
Received: January 27, 2020
Accepted: October 1, 2020
Published: October 22, 2020
Peer Review History: PLOS recognizes the
benefits of transparency in the peer review
process; therefore, we enable the publication of
all of the content of peer review and author
responses alongside final, published articles. The
editorial history of this article is available here:
Copyright: ©2020 Dumas et al. This is an open
access article distributed under the terms of the
Creative Commons Attribution License, which
permits unrestricted use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided the original
author and source are credited.
Data Availability Statement: To facilitate
replicability and open science, the data collected
and analyzed in this study is archived at Zenodo
M81KSlaQ; DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3899578), and
undergraduate-level student actors is also far worse than that of most other undergraduate
majors (e.g., biology, engineering), with the majority of acting majors leaving the profession
within a few years of college graduation [3].
Given this current characterization of the acting profession, with its extremely high-risk
features, the question becomes pertinent: what psychological attributes distinguish those indi-
viduals who have dedicated themselves to the acting profession from those that have not? And
when professional and student actors are jointly considered, what psychological attributes may
differentiate those groups, and potentially contribute to professionals’ persistence and success?
By closely examining and working to understand the psychological attributes that support
actors in their professional work, or their development of expertise as a student, it is our inten-
tion to present findings that are not only interesting for the psychological research community
but also for professional and student actors themselves. In addition, educators who seek to
train student actors who may one day become professional may benefit from such an investi-
gation, because it intends to highlight the dimensions on which professional and student
actors differ or are similar, possibly informing pedagogical decisions. Finally, organizations
that employ, serve, or represent actors (e.g., theater companies; talent agencies; labor unions)
may find value in such an investigation, because it would delineate the strengths and further
needs of actors and the acting community.
In order to best accomplish these general aims, we here analyze psychometric data from
three groups of individuals: non-acting adults, undergraduate-level student actors, and profes-
sional actors who have already achieved a recognized degree of success. From each of these
three groups, creative, motivational, and personality attributes are measured, and machine
learning methods are utilized to identify psychologically-relevant patterns in these data. But
before presenting the current study, we first overview the existing knowledge concerning the
psychology of professional actors and highlight areas in which these existing studies can be
augmented to provide a richer, and more modern, understanding.
Summary of extant empirical psychological work with professional actors
Actors and acting have been of interest to psychologists since the nascent beginnings of the
field, with major early psychologists such as Binet [4] and Vygotsky [5], writing theoretical
pieces on the psychology of the performing arts (Binet even co-wrote and produced several
popular French plays [6]). Despite this historical interest among psychologists in actors and
acting theoretically, the actual body of empirical work dedicated to actors is small compared to
investigations into other areas of expertise (e.g., engineering; [7]). The earliest empirical inves-
tigation of the psychology of professional actors of which we are aware was conducted by Sta-
cey and Goldberg [8]), who used a number of self-report psychometric scales to show that
undergraduate student actors who were regularly cast in university productions were more
psychologically similar to professional actors than were undergraduate student actors who
were rarely cast in university productions. Specifically, Stacey and Goldberg [8] showed that
student actors who were rarely cast exhibited much higher levels of extraversion than did stu-
dents who were regularly cast or professional actors, who were much more inhibited, consci-
entious, and prone to depressive thinking.
This early finding paved the way for the continuing investigation of negative psychological
attributes in performing artists: a program of research that has been particularly productive in
recent years. For example, Dufner and colleagues [9] found that, among dedicated (but not
professional) improvisational actors, heightened levels of a narcissistic need for admiration
can be observed. However, the improvisational actors showed much lower levels of a narcissis-
tic need to derogate others (known as rivalry), demonstrating that actors may be
The psychology of actors
PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 2 / 26
the text-mining based models used to score the
divergent thinking tasks are freely available on our
laboratory website (
Funding: The author(s) received no specific
funding for this work. Actor’s Equity Association
did not provide any financial support for this study,
including in the form of author salary. As a
collective authorship team, we have no competing
interests that could interfere with the scientific
process related to this work.
Competing interests: Michael Doherty’s affiliation
with Actor’s Equity Association did not and does
not alter our adherence to PLOS ONE policies on
sharing data and material.
narcissistically motivated towards self-promotion, but that tendency did not extend to putting
other actors down. In related qualitative work, Robb, Due, and Venning [10] conducted in-
depth interviews of self-identified professional actors concerning their well-being and vulnera-
bility to mental illness (e.g., anxiety and depressive disorders), finding that professional actors
used a wide-range of strategies to protect their well-being including positive engagement with
the artistic community, focusing on personal growth, and conceptualizing acting as a mean-
ingful life-purpose. Davison and Furnham [11] used a large sample of professional actors with
strict inclusion criteria (i.e., actors were recruited through their agents, assuring they were
indeed professional) and administered a number of well-validated self-report measures that
were aligned with personality disorder profiles (e.g., Schizoid, Dependent, Obsessive-Compul-
sive). In general, they identified heighted subclinical levels of personality disorder related traits
in their sample: with actors scoring significantly higher than non-actors on Antisocial, Narcis-
sistic, Histrionic, Borderline, and Obsessive-Compulsive personality disorder scales, and only
male actors displaying significantly heightened levels of Schizotypal, Avoidant, and Dependent
personality disorders. This finding appears to be related to Thomson and Jaque’s [11] finding
that professional performing artists (including actors and dancers) who reported significantly
greater amounts of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) also reported experiencing crea-
tive states (e.g., a transformational sense of self) more often than performing artists who did
not experience as many ACEs.
Using a relatively large sample of self-identified professional actors (82% were members of
an actor’s union), Nettle [12] administered questionnaires designed to tap the Big 5 personality
dimensions (i.e., Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Conscientiousness, Agreeableness
[13]) as well as psychological attributes related to autism spectrum disorder (i.e., Empathizing
Quotient and Systemizing Quotient; [14]). Nettle [12] compared actors’ scores on these mea-
sures to general population British norms and found that actors scored significantly higher
than the normative level on Extraversion, Openness to Experience, and Agreeableness, and
had heightened but non-significantly different levels of Neuroticism. The actors also scored
significantly higher than the comparison norms on the Empathizing Quotient but were similar
to the British norm on the Systemizing Quotient. This general picture of the psychology of
professional actors has also led to the use of actors as participants in the investigation of a
number of other psychological processes and conditions such as facial recognition of emotions
[15] post-traumatic stress disorder [16], and neurological effects of auditory-motor expertise
[17]. In addition, some psychological phenomena that specifically affect actors—such as stage
fright—have been examined using professional actors as participants [18]. Specifically, these
researchers found that, among professional actors, females with low emotional stability and an
external locus of control were most at risk for serious and recurring stage fright.
Another recent study specifically of student actors [19] examined the emotional attributes
of undergraduate acting majors as compared to undergraduate students without acting experi-
ence. These researchers found that actors reported higher temperamental sadness and fear, but
more positive viewpoints related to the experience of these negative emotions. In addition, stu-
dent actors were more capable than other undergraduates at identifying facial expressions
related to pride, but less capable than other undergraduates at identifying facial expression
related to anger. This finding is related to another recent piece from Ivcevic and colleagues
[20] who found that, despite the strong negative correlation at the population level between
psychological vulnerabilities such as anxiety and depression and psychological resources such
as self-acceptance and hope, creative experts (i.e., fine arts faculty) exhibited simultaneously
high levels of both psychological vulnerabilities and resources, implying that creative experts
may be fruitfully utilizing both their negative and positive psychological attributes to support
their artistic expression. These findings are supported by a relatively long line of psychological
The psychology of actors
PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 3 / 26
research from scholars such as Thalia Goldstein and Ellen Winner [2124] who have shown
that arts education, and specifically training in acting techniques, can support children’s devel-
opment of emotional regulation, theory of mind, and other positive psychological attributes,
including the capacity to safely express negative emotions. In our view, these perennial find-
ings from the developmental and educational literature concerning the benefits of acting train-
ing for children further imply that expert of professional actors may not only benefit from
such positive psychological attributes that they develop during their training but may actually
require those attributes for success in their expert work.
These inferences regarding the expertise of actors are highly related to a line of acting
research situated within the literature on expertise development. Noice & Noice [2527] con-
ducted a series of studies on the cognitive processes that actors use when preparing for their
roles. This line of research eventually culminated in Noice & Noice [28,29] positing a two-
stage model of actors’ process: analysis and active experiencing. For Noice and Noice, each of
these major stages of the acting process were further broken down into a number of compo-
nent processes that were often reminiscent of the information-processing perspective on
expertise development [30]. For example, in Noice and Noice’s model, finely-grained sub-pro-
cesses such as causal attribution (when actors define ‘why’ something occurs in a script) can
occur many times within the analysis phase of role preparation, depending on the demands of
the project and expertise of the actor. In a related but much more recent line of work [31], psy-
chologists have also begun to examine the specific vocal strategies that actors use to embody
characters with differing personality traits (e.g., Assertiveness, Cooperativeness), finding that
actors altered their voices along 12 vocal parameters (e.g., pitch, volume) in order to portray
the personality of their characters.
Promising areas to extend past work
Given the extant understanding of the psychology of professional actors that is present in the
field, a number of opportunities to extend, improve, and also replicate existing work are appar-
ent. Here, we briefly delineate areas in which the current state-of-the-art in research on profes-
sional actors can be moved forward.
Divergent thinking assessment. One clear pattern that is discernible in the current litera-
ture is that there has been a heavy reliance on self-report measures in research on professional
actors. This choice is understandable given time and resource limitations in this area of work,
but the greater inclusion of performance measures in this line of research remains a strong
opportunity. In the larger literature on creativity and creative expertise, the most commonly
administered performance measures are Divergent Thinking (DT) assessments, which require
participants to generate multiple possible solutions to a given task within a set amount of time
[32]. These tasks are typically scored along multiple dimensions that generally correspond to
the quantity (i.e. Ideational Fluency) and quality (i.e. Originality) of the ideas generated by a
participant, with each of these dimensions having been repeatedly demonstrated to be strong
positive predictors of creative potential and performance (see [33] for a review of DT scoring).
Given the obvious demand of the acting profession to generate interesting or original ideas
rapidly (such as when rehearsing a new role), DT can readily be hypothesized as relevant to
the success of professional actors. However, the predictive power of DT to identify those indi-
viduals who are or could be professional actors remains unknown in the field. As far as we are
aware, DT assessments have not yet been systematically administered to professional actors as
part of research study, however, some initial evidence that DT measures are sensitive to acting
training is available in the field. For example, Sowden and colleagues [34] demonstrated that
improvisation exercises could improve the DT of elementary school students, suggesting that
The psychology of actors
PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 4 / 26
DT measures may be suitable for identifying individuals with acting training. In this investiga-
tion, performance assessment of DT is included, as a key way to extend past work.
Richer array of self-report questionnaires. Although many psychologically interesting
and well-validated self-report scales have been previously included in research on actors, many
relevant constructs remain to be included. For example, self-reported creative activities in
domains in which an individual is not a professional (e.g., creative visual arts activities for
actors) have previously been shown to be predictive in creativity research [35]. For instance, it
may be reasonable to hypothesize that actors, given the creative nature of their work, will
engage in more creative activities than non-actors even in domains (e.g., literature; music) that
are not directly within the area of acting. Relatedly, it could also be, that because actors’ work
demands creative thinking, they may tend to avoid expending creative effort in other more
quotidian domains such as cooking.
In addition, motivational constructs such as Grit [36] that have come to greater attention in
the literature recently, have never been examined with professional actors before. In the con-
text of the acting profession, where financial security can be lacking, and rejection (i.e., not
booking an auditioned-for role) is commonplace, motivational attributes such as perseverance
in the face of adversity and consistency of interest in one’s chosen profession—two principal
facets of Grit [36]—appear likely to be relevant. Emotional Intelligence [37] also appears to be
a candidate for relevance to professional actors, in that actors’ work regularly consists of
appraising and using emotions. Finally, although the Big 5 personality attributes have previ-
ously been investigated in professional actors [12], the more finely-grained analysis of person-
ality facets (two of which load on each of the Big 5 [38]) has never before been examined with
actors. More specifically, the Big 5 dimensions of Neuroticism, Agreeableness, Conscientious-
ness, Extraversion, and Openness can be further delineated into 10 facets: Neuroticism con-
tains both Volatility and Withdrawal; Agreeableness is divided into both Compassion and
Politeness; Conscientiousness contains Industriousness and Orderliness; Extraversion has
Enthusiasm and Assertiveness; and Openness is divided into Intellect and Openness. In this
study, each of these extensions to past work are included.
Inclusion of student and professional actors. Many scholars who have studied actors
and acting have been interested with the process by which student or trainee actors become
professionals and subsequently develop expertise [29,31]. However, only rarely in the litera-
ture have student actors and more expert professional actors been specifically compared on
their psychological attributes. In addition, within the general literature on creativity, psycho-
logical differences among individuals who are professionally creative and those who are not
has perennially been of interest [39]. Regarding the specific question of how student and pro-
fessional actors differ psychologically, the classic study—now nearly 70 years old—by Stacey
and Goldberg [8] remains potentially the most informative. In the current study, we adopt a
sampling strategy similar to Stacey and Goldberg [8] in that we specifically compare student
and professional actors but modernize the work through the large-scale data collection that is
now the standard of the field [40].
Modern machine learning methodology. Some existing studies of professional actors
(e.g., [12,40]) have collected impressively large samples given the challenges in recruiting this
population for psychological research. However, within this literature, sample sizes have not
necessarily been fully leveraged through the application of cutting-edge methodologies.
Indeed, nearly all quantitative work in the study of professional actors have solely utilized tra-
ditional mean-comparison methods (e.g., ANOVA) or ordinary-least-square predictive meth-
ods (e.g., regression). Although these perennially applied methods are not inherently flawed,
the opportunity to methodologically modernize the methods used to investigate the psychol-
ogy of professional actors seems apparent. Specifically, with more psychological research
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PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 5 / 26
incorporating advanced methodologies from the machine-learning family [41] opportunities
to potentially illuminate more nuanced, more generalizable, and possibly more replicable (i.e.,
not over-fit to a single dataset) patterns in our data become apparent. In this study, we used
machine-learning methodology in two different ways. First, the DT assessment is scored using
a modern computational scoring method derived from the text-mining literature [42], and
Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operators (LASSOs [43]) are utilized to provide the
most psychologically informative prediction and classification models.
Research questions of current study
Given the current state-of-the-literature reviewed here concerning empirical psychological
research with professional actors, as well as the previously identified areas to extend that extant
work, the current study posits three specific research questions to be investigated:
1. How do non-actors, student actors, and professional actors differ on average on a number
of theoretically-relevant psychological attributes?
2. Can actors be effectively distinguished from non-actors based on their psychological attri-
butes? What psychological attributes would be strongly-weighted by a model used for this
3. Can professional actors be effectively distinguished from undergraduate student actors
based on their psychological attributes? What psychological attributes would be strongly-
weighted by a model used for this purpose?
To facilitate replicability and open science, the data collected and analyzed in this study is
archived at Zenodo (LINK:; DOI: 10.
5281/zenodo.3899578), and the text-mining based models used to score the divergent thinking
tasks are freely available on our laboratory website (
A total of 296 individuals participated in this study, with participants being drawn from three
different groups: (a) non-acting adults, (b) undergraduate students majoring in acting, and (c)
adult professional actors. Each of these groups of participants are described separately in this
section. All participant recruitment strategies used here, as well as study procedures, were
approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University of Denver.
Non-acting adults. This group included 92 (53 female; 57.6%) participants. Non-acting
adults were recruited for this study via Amazon Mechanical Turk, a crowdsourcing platform
widely used in psychology research, including creativity research [44]. Because of the high lan-
guage demands of divergent thinking tasks, participants were required to report themselves as
fluent English speakers in order to participate, although 2 participants (2.1%) reported English
as their second (but fluent) language. Participants were compensated $3.00 each for their par-
ticipation. Participants were required to be over the age of 18 to participate, but the minimum
actual participant age was 21, with a maximum age of 68. The mean age of participants was 37
(SD = 10.58). The majority of participants (n= 68; 73.91%) reported their race/ethnicity as
White or European-American, while smaller proportions of the sample reported their ethnic-
ity as Black or African-American (n= 6; 6.5%), Asian (n = 9; 9.8%), Latinx (n= 5; 5.43) or mul-
tiple ethnicities (n= 4; 4.2%).
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PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 6 / 26
Although this sample was collected as a non-acting comparison group, we did not require
that these participants should have had zero history of activities within the performing arts.
Indeed, some history of “little-c” [45] creative activities is likely to be expected of nearly any
sample. However, as will be presented in the Results section of this paper (see Table 2 for stan-
dardized descriptive statistics), this comparison group did report statistically and practically
significantly fewer creative activities than the other groups for every creative domain mea-
sured, with the greatest differences being within the performing arts domain.
Undergraduate acting majors. 100 undergraduate students, currently enrolled as acting
or theater majors, participated in this study. Recruitment for this group of participants was pri-
marily accomplished via existing social media listservs that connected undergraduate theater
and acting students, although snowball sampling methods, in which participating students
shared the participation opportunity with their classmates, were also utilized. The average age
of the undergraduate students was 20.33 (SD = 2.65), with a minimum age of 18 and a maxi-
mum age of 26. The sample was relatively evenly split among students in terms of the years
they had spent in their undergraduate program: of the 87 student actors who reported their
year-in-program, 24 (27.59%) were in their first year, 15 (17.24%) were in their second year,
18 (20.69%) were in their third year, 19 (21.84%) were in their fourth year, and 11 (12.64) were
in their fifth year as undergraduates. In addition, although all undergraduate actors had
received targeted acting training as part of their education, they were situated in three different
concentrations within their programs: of the 78 student actors who reported their concentra-
tions 35 (44.87) were in an acting concentration, 27 (34.61%) were in musical theater, and 16
(20.51%) were in a directing, playwriting, or production concentration. 77 (77.00%) students
reported a female gender, 18 (18.00%) reported male, and 5 (5.00%) reported a non-binary
gender identity. 77 (77.00%) reported an ethnicity of White or European-American, 6 (6.00%)
reported their ethnicity as Black or African-American, 2 (2.00%) Asian, 4 (4.00%) Latinx, and
11 (11.00%) multiple ethnicities. 95% (n= 95) reported being a native English speaker, with
5% (n= 5) reporting a first language other than English.
Professional actors. In this study, 104 professional actors were recruited via existing
email and social media listservs that connected members of professional actor’s unions: either
Actors Equity (which focuses on the representation of stage actors) or SAG-AFTRA (which
focuses on the representation of screen actors). During the ongoing data collection process,
some snowball sampling of professional actors occurred, where individual actors would share
the participation opportunity with their colleagues. In order to be eligible to participate, actors
needed to report being a member of either Actor’s Equity of SAG-AFTRA, or if they were not
union-affiliated, report having previously booked more than 10 professional acting contracts
either on stage or screen. In addition, 56.38% (n= 53) reported holding a Bachelor’s degree in
acting, while 29.79% (n= 28) reported holding a Master’s degree, and 3.19% (n= 3) reported
holding a doctoral degree. 5 participants (5.32%) reported having no university training, and
the same proportion reported having a non-degree certification from a university. 72.34%
(n= 68) also reported having engaged in additional acting training at a studio apart from their
university training.
In terms of gender, 51.92% (n= 54) of the professional actors reported female, 45.19%
(n= 47) reported male, .96% (n= 1) reported a non-binary gender, and 1.92% (n= 2) pre-
ferred not to respond. The average age of the sample was 35.43 (SD = 10.13) with minimum
age of 21 and a maximum age of 67. The majority of participants (n= 84; 70.77%) reported
their race/ethnicity as White or European-American, while smaller proportions of the sample
reported their ethnicity as Black or African-American (n= 3; 2.88%), Asian (n = 1; .96%),
Latinx (n= 6; 5.77%) or multiple ethnicities (n= 6; 5.77%). 97.12% (n= 101) of the
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PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 7 / 26
professional actors reported they were native English speakers, with 2.88% (n= 3) reporting a
first language other than English.
In order to capture a variety of meaningful psychological attributes that may explain individu-
als’ continued motivation and ability to engage with the acting profession, a number of well-
validated measures were administered to participants. All scales administered here were scored
using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) models and empirical Bayes, in order to most validly
quantify the psychological attribute tapped by the measure [46]. As such, three reliability indi-
ces are available in Table 1 for each of the measures: Cronbach’s alpha [47], McDonald’s
Omega [48], and Hancock’s H[49]. These reliability indices differ in that alpha assumes a tau-
equivalent model (i.e. all item loadings equal) and therefore represents a lower-bound of the
scale reliability [50]. Omega allows for assumption of tau-equivalence to be relaxed (i.e., item
loadings can differ), and also accounts for the size of the error terms in a factor model [51]His
also referred to as maximal reliability [52], because it provides an upper-bound on the reliabil-
ity of the scale and is most appropriate when measure scores are saved directly from a latent
measurement model (as is the case in this study). Details about the measures appear below.
Alternate Uses Task (AUT). The AUT is a psychometric measure in which participants
are asked to generate as many creative uses for an object as possible within a certain amount of
time (i.e., two minutes per object in this case). The AUT has been used for assessing divergent
thinking and creative potential for decades [5355], and remains one of the most-often utilized
tasks within the creativity research literature [56,57]. The following 10 object names were pre-
sented to participants in a randomized order: book,fork,table,hammer,pants,bottle,brick,
tire,shovel, and shoe. The resulting AUT data are both open-ended (i.e., participants can differ
on how many responses they give within the time limit) and ill-defined (i.e., participants can
also differ on the number of words used to describe their responses), and therefore the AUT
has typically been scored using a number of different scoring procedures, each designed to
estimate a different dimension of divergent thinking [58,59]. In this study, three scoring pro-
cedures were utilized for the AUT, and each are described below.
Ideational Fluency. Ideational Fluency refers to an individual’s capacity to rapidly generate
a number of ideas within a set amount of time [58]. Therefore, the scoring procedure for Flu-
ency is relatively simple: the number of responses generated by each participant for each AUT
item was tallied. These ten item-level Ideational Fluency scores exhibited a high level of com-
posite reliability (see Table 1 for alpha), and when a unidimensional confirmatory factor analy-
sis (CFA) model was fit to those item-level Fluency counts, they also showed a high level of
factor reliability (see Table 1 for Omega and H). Fluency scores for each participant in the
dataset were estimated via the CFA model using empirical Bayes, and saved for later analysis.
Elaboration. Elaboration refers to the degree that participants explicate their responses to
the AUT [60] and within the creativity research literature Elaboration is commonly scored
using word counts [61]. Here, the number of words participants utilized within each AUT
item was counted, producing ten item-level Elaboration scores. These scores displayed a strong
level of reliability both at the composite and latent factor levels and participants’ Elaboration
scores for the AUT were generated from a unidimensional CFA model using empirical Bayes.
Originality. Typically regarded as the most theoretically important dimension of divergent
thinking measured by the AUT, Originality refers to the relative unusualness or novelty of par-
ticipant responses [62]. A number of different scoring procedures for Originality exist in the
creativity research literature, and this study follows the most modern methodological guide-
lines available [33]. Specifically, Originality is scored here via a text-mining approach, using
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PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 8 / 26
the Global Vectors for Word Representation (GloVe) 840B system, which is publicly available
through the Stanford natural-language-processing laboratory [63]. This text-mining model
was trained on a corpus of 840 billion words that were scraped from a variety of online sources
including Wikipedia and Twitter. Previous psychometric work in creativity research [42]
showed that, among a number of candidate text-mining models, GloVe was the most capable
of approximating human-rated Originality, displayed the most advantageous reliability coeffi-
cients, and had the most theoretically meaningful correlations to relevant criteria measures. In
addition, in accordance with current methodological recommendations within creativity
research [61] an inverse-document-frequency (IDF) weighting scheme was applied to the
GloVe scoring system, in which the words utilized in participant responses were weighted
more strongly if they were rare in model’s training corpus and weighted more weakly if they
were common in the model’s training corpus [64].
Table 1. Reliability indices for measures used in this investigation.
Measure / Dimension Reliability
Alternate Uses Task
Fluency .962 .964 .965
Elaboration .966 .967 .968
Originality (mean) .858 .874 .903
Originality (max) .824 .834 .842
Inventory of Creative Activities
Literature .797 .804 .821
Music .876 .881 .945
Crafts .873 .882 .953
Cooking .872 .879 .899
Visual Art .817 .826 .847
Performing Arts .831 .836 .902
Short Grit Scale
Grit .807 .811 .863
Intolerance of Uncertainty Scale
Prospective Uncertainty .866 .868 .871
Inhibitory Uncertainty .877 .878 .887
Emotional Intelligence Scale
Self-emotion Appraisal .886 .894 .909
Other-emotion Appraisal .913 .917 .940
Uses of Emotion .864 .874 .903
Big 5 Aspects Scale
Openness .876 .882 .893
Intellect .846 .855 .892
Enthusiasm .924 .927 .933
Assertiveness .931 .935 .946
Industriousness .879 .886 .891
Orderliness .889 .894 .907
Compassion .952 .953 .957
Politeness .827 .832 .852
Volatility .941 .942 .945
Withdrawal .920 .921 .924
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Conceptually, GloVe is designed to preserve the linearity of the relations among words, so
that the semantic distances between them are directly comparable by studying the factorization
matrix of words by latent dimensions. Using these matrices, the latent dimensions can be used
as coordinates in a geometrically represented space, and the cosine of the angle between the
word-vectors can be interpreted as the semantic or associative distance among words [65]. As
an example with the AUT, if the prompt was “shovel”, the response “dig a hole” would result
in a vector that has an acute angle with the vector for “shovel”. In contrast, the response “fling
tennis balls for a dog to chase” would result in a vector that has a wider angle from the initial
prompt vector, indicating that response is less semantically similar. Please see Fig 1 for a visu-
alization of the specific geometric relations among these example responses. The cosines of
these angles among word vectors yielded semantic similarity indices that ranges from -1 to 1
for each AUT response, which were subtracted from 1 in order to yield Originality scores that
ranged from 0 to 2. Originality scores were then averaged across the responses generated for
each AUT item (e.g., Book), resulting in ten item-level Originality scores for each participant.
These scores displayed a satisfactory level of reliability at both the composite-scale and latent
Table 2. Means, standard deviations, and univariate mean comparisons.
Variable Non-Acting Adults Undergraduate Acting Majors Professional Actors One-way Mean Comparison
Fluency -.38 (.78) .07 (.94) .27 (1.11) F(2,293) = 11.99, p<.001, η
= .08
Elaboration -.28 (.77) .05 (1.02) .20 (1.09) F(2,293) = 5.94, p = .003, η
= .03
Originality (mean) .06 (.93) -.29 (1.22) .23 (.71) F(2,293) = 7.39, p<.001, η
= .05
Originality (max) -.19 (.95) -.04 (1.02) .21 (.98) F(2,293) = 4.33, p = .014, η
= .03
Literary Activities -0.81 (.91) .23 (.81) .50 (.78) F(2,293) = 66.41, p<.001, η
= .31
Musical Activities -.86 (.79) .38 (.81) .39 (.83) F(2,293) = 74.50, p<.001, η
= .33
Crafting Activities -.69 (.99) .32 (.85) .30 (.83) F(2,293) = 40.96, p<.001, η
= .22
Cooking Activities -.33 (1.00) .35 (.94) -.05 (.95) F(2,293) = 12.64, p<.001, η
= .08
Visual Art Activities -.57 (.91) .31 (.85) .20 (.99) F(2,293) = 25.59, p<.001, η
= .22
Performing Arts Activities -.92 (.61) .42 (.85) .40 (.85) F(2,293) = 91.45, p<.001, η
= .38
Grit -.32 (1.15) .04 (.92) .25 (.84) F(2,293) = 7.91, p<.001, η
= .05
Intolerance of Uncertainty (Prospective) .40 (1.01) -.35 (.90) -.02 (.95) F(2,293) = 14.70, p<.001, η
= .09
Intolerance of Uncertainty (Inhibitory) .24 (1.09) -.31 (.88) .09 (.94) F(2,293) = 8.60, p<.001, η
= .05
Self-emotional Appraisal .02 (.97) .18 (.86) -.19 (1.11) F(2,293) = 3.71, p = .03, η
= .02
Other-emotional Appraisal -.39 (1.14) .32 (.69) .03 (.99) F(2,293) = 13.54, p<.001, η
= .08
Uses of Emotion .11 (1.02) .08 (.89) -.17 (1.05) F(2,293) = 2.55, p = .08, η
= .02
Openness -.73 (1.20) .32 (.71) .34 (.62) F(2,293) = 35.95, p<.001, η
= .24
Intellect -.23 (1.12) .22 (1.02) -.03 (.81) F(2,293) = 4.99, p = .007, η
= .03
Enthusiasm -.47 (1.10) .24 (.85) .19 (.89) F(2,293) = 17.11, p<.001, η
= .10
Assertiveness -.59 (1.21) .31 (.71) .23 (.78) F(2,293) = 28.17, p<.001, η
= .16
Industriousness .42 (1.06) -.17 (.85) -.21 (.96) F(2,293) = 13.19, p<.001, η
= .08
Orderliness .10 (1.21) -.14 (.84) .05 (.92) F(2,293) = 1.67, p= .191, η
= .01
Compassion -.42 (1.35) .29 (.67) .09 (.75) F(2,293) = 14.37, p<.001, η
= .08
Politeness .07 (1.15) -.06 (.90) -.02 (.94) F(2,293) = 0.52, p = .593, η
Volatility -.24 (1.21) -.03 (.91) .23 (.84) F(2,293) = 5.57, p = .003, η
= .04
Withdrawal -.24 (1.20) -.02 (.88) .22 (.86) F(2,293) = 5.72, p = .004, η
= .04
Note: Groups means are presented in cells, SD’s are in parentheses. All variables measured here are standardized across the entire sample: the grand mean is zero and
grand SD is 1. But, means and SD’s can differ across the groups, and therefore the comparisons here are relevant. Bolded variable names indicate that variable exhibited
significant differences across groups at the p<.05 level.
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factor levels and Originality scores were saved for each participant from the unidimensional
CFA model using empirical Bayes.
Inventory of creative activities. This inventory is a relatively recently developed [35] self-
report measure for real-life creative activities and accomplishments across eight domains: liter-
ature, music, arts and crafts, cooking, sports, visual arts, performing arts, and science and engi-
neering. Given the general nature of this sample, and time-constraints on the data collection,
we administered the scales for six of those original eight domains: music, literature, arts and
crafts, cooking, visual arts, and performing arts. Each of these scales consisted of six Likert-
style items that ask participants how many times they have done particular creative activities
in the past 10 years with five response categories: never,1–2 times,3–5 times,6–10 times, and
more than 10 times. For example, in the music domain, participants are asked how many times
they have written a piece of music, or created a mix tape, among other items. In the arts and
crafts domain, participants are asked how many times they created an original decoration. In
cooking, how many times they made up a new recipe. The visual and performing arts scale
asks how many times participants painted a picture and performed in a play, respectively. All
of these scales exhibited satisfactory reliability, with the Music Activities scale having the high-
est reliability, and the Literary Activities scale having the lowest reliability.
Grit scale. This 12-item self-report measure aims to tap participants’ levels of a motiva-
tional construct termed grit that includes both the consistency of participants’ interest in and
their perseverance on their long-term goals [66]. In previous work, Grit has been shown to
predict educational and career outcomes across a variety of domains [36]. In its original
conceptualization, this short measure contained two sub-scales: Consistency of Interest (e.g., I
often set a goal but later choose to pursue a different one [reverse coded]) and Perseverance of
Fig 1. A visual representation of the geometric relations among response vectors arising from a GloVe 840B scoring analysis. As can be
seen, the more original a response, the greater its angle with the AUT prompt.
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PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 11 / 26
Effort (e.g., I finish whatever I begin). Items on the Consistency of Interest sub-scale are all
reverse-coded, while items on Perseverance of Effort scale are not. In this investigation, the
individual sub-scales of this measure did not reach adequate reliability, so following with exist-
ing practice in the literature [67], the Grit Scale was scored unidimensionally, with all 12-items
indicating a single underlying construct of Grit. Unidimensionally, the Grit Scale reached sat-
isfactory reliability at both the composite (Cronbach’s alpha) and factor (Omega, H) levels.
Intolerance of uncertainty scale. This 12-item scale is designed to tap participants psy-
chological need for certainty, or their fear of the uncertain or unknown [68]. Intolerance of
Uncertainty has been a key construct in current psychological understandings of worry, a phe-
nomenon that is related to career choice [69]. This measure features two sub-scales: Prospec-
tive Anxiety (e.g., I always want to know what the future has in store for me), which is designed
to tap how participants react to the possibility of an uncertain future, and Inhibitory Anxiety
(e.g., The smallest doubt can stop me from acting), which focuses on the effect of uncertainty on
participant behavior in the present. In this study, both of these scales exhibited satisfactory reli-
ability and were scored separately, creating two scale-level scores for analysis.
Emotional intelligence scale. Broadly conceptualized as the ability to perceive, under-
stand, and use emotions in oneself and in others [37], emotional intelligence has been mea-
sured in many ways in past literature, including performance tests [70] and self-report. Here, a
short 12-item self-reported Emotional Intelligence measure [71] was administered. This mea-
sure features three scales: Self-emotional Appraisal (e.g., I have a good understanding of my
own emotions), Others’ emotional appraisal (e.g., I am sensitive to the feelings and emotions of
others), and Uses of emotion (e.g., I always encourage myself to try my best). Each of these scales
reached satisfactory reliability and were scores separately, creating 3 scale scores for future
Big five aspects scale. The Big Five Aspects Scale (BFAS; [38]) is a widely utilized self-
report personality measure in which participants indicate levels of five principal aspects of per-
sonality, each of which is divided further into two facets. The “big five” dimensions of person-
ality—Neuroticism, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, and Openness—are all
available on this measure. However, each of these principal five personality characteristics are
further divided into two facets: Neuroticism contains both Volatility (e.g., I get upset easily)
and Withdrawal (e.g., I am afraid of many things); Agreeableness contains Compassion (e.g., I
like to do things for others) and Politeness (e.g., I hate to seem pushy); Conscientiousness is
divided into both Industriousness (e.g., I am not easily distracted) and Orderliness (e.g., I want
everything to be ‘just right’); Extraversion has Enthusiasm (e.g., I have a lot of fun) and Asser-
tiveness (e.g., I know how to captivate people); and Openness is divided in to Intellect (e.g., I
like to solve complex problems) and Openness (e.g., I need a creative outlet). In this investigation
each of the ten facets displayed strong reliability, and scoring therefore occurred at the facet-
level, creating ten scores for later analysis.
Procedures. All participation in this study was conducted via the Internet with Qualtrics
administration software. Informed consent was obtained before participants could move for-
ward with the measures (these procedures were approved by the Institutional Review Board at
the University of Denver). Study instructions asked participants to complete the measures
with minimal distractions and recommended that they turn off electronic devices as well as
close other websites or programs open on their computer. Because the AUT requires a signifi-
cant amount of typing, participation required a traditional keyboard and participation via
smartphone or tablet was not allowed. Participants were given two minutes to provide uses for
each AUT item before they were automatically advanced to the next object, and they could not
advance before those two minutes were up. After responding to all ten objects (i.e., after 20
minutes), participants were informed that the task was complete, and moved to the self-report
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PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 12 / 26
portion of the study. After all self-report measures were complete, participants responded to
the demographic questions and logged out of the study website.
Results and implications
Analysis of these data unfolded in two major phases. First, average levels of each of the con-
structs included in this study across the non-acting, student actor, and professional actor
groups, in addition to significance tests for mean differences among those groups, are pre-
sented. Then, to provide a holistic picture of how these psychological attributes can, in concert,
be used to describe the general attributes of actors, and even identify professional from student
actors, a sequence of two Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator (LASSO; [72])
models are fit. These models are used to first identify those participants who are actors (either
students or professionals) out of the entire sample, and then to further sort professional from
student actors, when the comparison sample is left out of the analysis.
Descriptive statistics and univariate mean comparisons
The measurement procedures used here produced 26 psychologically-relevant scores for each
of the 296 participants in the dataset. These scores were produced via a CFA model on a stan-
dardized (z-score) metric, meaning that the grand mean across all participants was zero and
standard deviation was one. However, means for the specific groups (i.e., non-actors, student
actors, and professional actors) did exhibit statistically and practically significant differences.
Please see Table 2 for means and standard deviations per group, as well as accompanying sig-
nificance tests and effect sizes. At the p<.05 significance level, only three measurements did
not exhibit significant mean differences (and the smallest effect-sizes): Politeness, Orderliness,
and Uses of Emotion. Even at the much more conservative, Scheffe
´corrected significance level
of .0526 = .0019, 17 out of the 26 constructs would still exhibit significant differences. In the
sections that follow, each of these differences are presented, and immediate implications are
briefly highlighted.
Divergent thinking. Fluency, Elaboration, and maximal Originality scoring of the AUT
all showed significant differences among the groups in the following way: non-actors scored
the lowest (below the grand mean), student actors scored in the middle (around the grand
mean) and professional actors scored the highest (above the grand mean). However, the mean
Originality scoring showed significant differences in a different pattern, in which the student
actors scored the lowest, non-actors in the middle, and professional actors highest. All four of
these measurements contribute to the general finding that professional actors have an average
divergent thinking ability level that is heightened above non-actors and student actors, at least
on a verbal task like the AUT. Of the dimensions of divergent thinking measured here, the
strongest univariate effect size was found with Fluency.
Creative activities. The strongest effect-sizes present in these mean comparisons were
found on the Inventory of Creative Activities: with the Performing Arts scale having the largest
effect-size, followed by Music and Literary Activities. In addition, these three scales differed
among the groups in a predictable way, in that the non-actors scored substantially below the
grand mean on average, while both the student and professional actors scored above the grand
mean on average. Interestingly, the student actors reported slightly more performing arts
activities than the professional actors, perhaps because many opportunities for such activities
exist in the college setting, and this scale did not differentiate among paid and un-paid activi-
ties. The cooking activities scale, somewhat counter to stereotype, indicated that undergradu-
ate actors were engaged in substantially more cooking activities than were non-actors or
professional actors.
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PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 13 / 26
Grit. Following the pattern of much of the Inventory of Creative Activities and the AUT,
the Grit Scale showed significant differences across groups with non-actors having the lowest,
students being in the middle, and professional actors having the most Grit. Given the highly
competitive nature of the acting profession, this finding may indicate that Grit supports pro-
fessional actors as they transition from student to professional life.
Intolerance of uncertainty. In contrast to this pattern, the Intolerance of Uncertainty
scale showed the highest average scores for the non-actors (who were above the grand mean),
indicating that they had the greatest need for certainty or fear of the unknown, while profes-
sional actors scored in the middle (around the grand mean), and student actors reported very
low levels of Intolerance of Uncertainty (below the grand mean), or, worded a different way,
high levels of tolerance of uncertainty. In line with previous findings about the difficulties
faced by professional actors in their uncertain job market [1], this finding implies that profes-
sional actors, despite having a lower Intolerance of Uncertainty than non-acting adults, do not
exhibit the very low levels of Intolerance of Uncertainty that student actors report. This pat-
tern, in which student actors exhibit less Intolerance of Uncertainty than do professional
actors, is perhaps not surprising given that they are situated within university contexts that are
potentially more likely than the professional context to be personally supportive of individuals,
and they are also much less likely than professional actors to be solely responsible for their live-
lihood (e.g., student actors may rely on financial aid or assistance from caregivers).
Emotional intelligence. In a pattern that potentially runs counter to what would be
expected given the emotional nature of Actors’ work, professional actors reported an average
level of Self-emotional Appraisal (a dimension of Emotional Intelligence) that was below the
grand mean, non-actors reported an amount of Self-emotional Appraisal around the grand
mean, and student actors reported substantially more than the grand mean. In contrast, pro-
fessional actors reported an average level of Other-emotional appraisal that was around the
grand mean, with student actors reporting substantially more than the grand mean and non-
actors reporting substantially less. Taken together, these findings imply that actors’ Emotional
Intelligence (at least when self-reported) appears to be focused at others and not at themselves,
although student actors did report heightened levels of both these facets of Emotional Intelli-
gence, complicating that picture. Another potential explanation of this finding is that profes-
sional actors may be better calibrated in terms of their true levels of Emotional Intelligence,
whereas non-actors and students may have exhibited a self-report bias that led them to over-
estimate their true levels of Emotional Intelligence, therefore moving their group means above
the professional actors’ group mean.
Big five personality facets. As one of the only constructs included here that has been
investigated previously within the literature on professional actors [12], the Big Five Personal-
ity traits are here examined with a high degree of specificity in that each of the Big 5 dimen-
sions were quantified as two sub-dimensions or facets. In some cases (e.g., Extraversion),
significant differences on one facet were in the opposite direction of the other facet, strongly
suggesting the importance of facet-level measurement. Patterns of findings are discussed
Openness/Intellect. These two facets of personality are without a doubt the most widely
studied in research on creativity and creative individuals and are currently considered the core
of the creative personality [73]. However, patterns in significant mean differences across the
three groups on these two facets were not the same. Specifically, both professional and student
actors reported levels of Openness that was substantially above the grand mean, while non-
actors reported levels of Openness that was substantially below the grand mean. The effect-size
associated with the Openness significance test was the largest across any construct measured
in this study, besides Creative Activities. This pattern implies that Openness, as a facet of
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PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 14 / 26
personality, is a strong discriminator of individuals who are or are not actors but does not dif-
fer across professional and student actors. The Intellect facet, on the other hand did differ
among the student and professional actors, with student actors reporting much more Intellect
than the professionals. In addition, the effect size associated with Intellect was much smaller
than that associated with Openness, implying that Openness, more than Intellect, is a critical
indicator of the acting personality.
Extraversion. Extraversion has long been associated with acting [8], and creative careers in
general [74]. Here, significant group differences across non-actors, student actors, and profes-
sional actors were observed on both the Enthusiasm and Assertiveness facets of Extraversion.
In both cases, the non-actors reported the lowest amounts (below the grand mean) and both
the professional and student actors reported above the grand mean. Also in both facets, the
student actors reported slightly more Extraversion than did the professionals, but the differ-
ence was more marked in Assertiveness, which displayed a larger effect size than did
Conscientiousness. In previous work (e.g., [75]), conscientiousness has been shown to be
inversely related to creativity, and this study replicated that finding. Although the Orderliness
facet of conscientiousness did not display significant differences, implying that the groups
included in this study did not differ statistically on this attribute, the Industriousness facet did
show significant differences with the non-actors reporting the greatest average amount of
Industriousness (above the grand mean) and both the student and professional acting groups
reporting substantially less Industriousness than the grand mean. This finding suggests that
previous evidence about Conscientiousness and its inverse relation to creative work may have
been driven by the Industriousness facet. As a possibility, the Industriousness facet may be spe-
cifically inversely related to mind-wandering activities that have been shown to support crea-
tive insight [76].
Agreeableness. Although no significant differences were found on the Politeness facet of
Agreeableness, significant differences were found on Compassion. Specifically, non-actors
reported the lowest average levels of Compassion (below the grand mean), professional actors
reported a level of Compassion that was right around the grand mean, and student actors
reported the highest levels of Compassion, substantially higher than the grand mean. This
finding suggests that actors in general have heightened levels of Compassion, but that pattern
is most marked with student actors, who report more Compassion than do professionals.
Neuroticism. Both the Volatility and Withdrawal facets of Neuroticism displayed significant
differences across the groups, and the differences on both those facets were in the same direc-
tion. In particular, the non-actors displayed the lowest levels of Neuroticism (below the grand
mean), student actors reported levels of both facets of Neuroticism that was around the grand
mean, and professional actors reported the highest levels of Neuroticism (above the grand
mean). This finding is in line with previous work (e.g. [12]) that observed heightened levels of
Neuroticism with professional actors, as well as other classic work (e.g. [8]) that argued that
this personality difference was a key to understanding the differences among student and pro-
fessional actors.
LASSO classification models
Although the univariate mean comparisons presented in the previous section are relevant to
understanding the psychology of professional actors, they fall short of providing a full picture
of how actors—whether student or professional—holistically differ from non-actors, and how
professional actors are distinguished from students psychologically. In effect, the univariate
tests are useful in that they each isolate a single psychological construct and elucidate group
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PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 15 / 26
differences on that construct. But, as has been understood in multivariate psychology for
many years (e.g. [77]), univariate comparisons among groups may mask important differences
that can emerge when several constructs are analyzed simultaneously. There are a variety of
existing analytic strategies to find substantively meaningful patterns in high-dimensional mul-
tivariate data like that used here (see [78]). One of those strategies is to reverse the predictive
direction of the general linear models used above—where the categorical group indicator was
the predictor, and the continuous measurement was the outcome—and attempt to use the 26
psychological attributes measured in this study to effectively sort the participants back into
their groups (i.e., continuous attributes will be predictors, categorical groups will be the
In order to accomplish this conceptual and analytic strategy, there are a number of available
statistical methodologies. For example, discriminant function analysis has historically been,
and remains useful in psychology to classify participants (e.g., [79]), and logistic regression (as
well as its ordinal and multinomial versions) has also been a fruitfully applied model (e.g.,
[80]). However, these traditional statistical methods do have a number of limitations worth
considering here. For one, these methods require an a-priori specified list of predictor vari-
ables that enter the model in a specific order: decisions that researchers sometimes do not have
the theoretical knowledge to make, and that can have hidden influences on the strength and
even direction of the predictive relations from the predictors to the outcome [81]. In addition,
these models are frequently over-fit, meaning that their predictive capacity (e.g., R-square) is
almost always strongest in the dataset to which they are originally fit, and are weaker in valida-
tion or replication datasets; a phenomenon known as shrinkage [82].
A more modern alternative to these methods is LASSO, which estimates a penalization
parameter (λ), that is applied to the model parameters in order to minimize its degree of over-
fitting and therefore minimize future shrinkage of the coefficients should the model be fit to a
different dataset [72,83]. The larger the λof a LASSO model, the more penalized (i.e., reduced)
the LASSO coefficients will be, relative to a traditional method. In addition, LASSO algorith-
mically enters the predictor variables into the model in order to determine which predictors
are necessary to retain (i.e., are significant predictors), and which predictors can be dropped
from the model. LASSO models can also be specifically cross-validated by folding the analytic
dataset a certain number of times and estimating a model that minimizes over-fitting and
future shrinkage as well as selecting maximally important predictors for classification of partic-
ipants [43]. In addition, a logistic version of LASSO, in which the outcome variables are cate-
gorical, has been meaningfully used in the psychological literature as a classification model
(e.g. [84,85]). Given the advantages of LASSO, it was applied here to test the capacity of the 26
psychological constructs measured in this study to discriminate actors (either students or pro-
fessionals) from non-actors, and to sort professional and student actors from one another.
In interpreting the results of the LASSO models in this study, and especially in interpreting
how the results of the LASSO models differ from the results of the univariate tests above, it is
important to consider that the LASSO coefficients are meant to represent the predictive capac-
ity of that variable with all other variables in the model controlled for. The results of the LASSO
models below can be substantively different than the univariate results above for this reason.
For instance, it is possible (and even likely) that some variables that exhibited univariate differ-
ences above will be dropped from the LASSO models due to their lack of predictive power
over and above the other included variables. The inverse is also possible: just because a variable
did not display univariate differences above does not mean that it is not a useful predictor of
acting, when combined with the other variables in the model. For these methodological rea-
sons, we would argue that the LASSO coefficients calculated here are a more true-to-life depic-
tion of how professional and student actors differ from non-actors, or how professional and
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PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 16 / 26
student actors differ from each other. This is because the various psychological attributes stud-
ied here do not, in truth, operate in an isolated or univariate way. Instead, these psychological
attributes operate in conjunction with one another in order to support individuals in their cre-
ative development and profession.
Identifying actors. Using all 296 participants included in this study, a cross-validated
LASSO model was fit using all 26 measured constructs as potential predictors to sort non-
actors (n = 92, coded 0) from actors (professional and student combined n = 204, coded 1).
The model was cross-validated on ten folds of the dataset. The unpenalized model attained an
R-square of .68 (equivalent to maximum likelihood logistic regression), but the optimal λ
parameter estimated by the model was .01, and when applied to the model coefficients,
reduced the R-square to .63. This LASSO model produced a predicted probability of being an
actor for every participant in the dataset. If that predicted probability was over .50, they were
considered to have been sorted into the actors’ group, below .50 they were considered to have
been sorted into the non-actors’ group. Please see Table 3 for full classification accuracy infor-
mation on these models. The LASSO model was capable of correctly identifying 96.57%
(n = 197) of the actors in these data, correctly identifying 81.53% (n = 75) of the non-actors,
and had a total classification accuracy of 91.9%.
When the cross-validated predictive coefficients were estimated using the optimal λpenali-
zation, 17 out of 26 predictors were selected by the model. The LASSO predictive coefficients
for these 17 constructs, as well as their coefficients from a post-LASSO logistic regression run
only with these 17 predictors, are available in Table 4. Fitting with expectations, the Perform-
ing Arts Creative Activities measure was the most important measure in sorting actors from
non-actors. The Industriousness construct was the second most strongly weighted attribute in
the model, although it was weighted in a negative direction, implying that a low-level of
Industriousness is a strong indicator that a participant is an actor in this dataset. This finding
may be interesting going forward in the field of creativity research because it implies that the
creative personality is not marked by high levels of Conscientiousness, especially the Industri-
ousness facet. Recent neurological work suggests that Industriousness is a personality facet
that may moderate the brain’s activities when thinking divergently [86], suggesting it is a
highly relevant personality facet for future research. The Musical Creative Activities measure
was also strongly weighted by the model, followed by Assertiveness, which was weighted in the
positive direction (i.e., actors are identified by higher levels of Assertiveness). Both of these
Table 3. Classification tables from LASSO models.
Sorting Actors from Non-Actors (Model 1)
True Category Sorted Category Total
Non-Actor Actor
Non-Actor 75 17 92
Actor 7 97 104
Total 82 214 296
Sorting Professional from Student Actors (Model 2)
True Category Sorted Category Total
Student Professional
Student 63 37 100
Professional 29 75 104
Total 92 112 204
Note: Model 1 percentage correctly sorted was 91.9%, Model 2 percentage correctly sorted was 67.7%
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PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 17 / 26
positively weighted constructs fit with expectations, which generally consider Musical activities
adjacent to acting, and the Assertiveness facet of Extraversion central to the personality of a
performing artist.
Three out of the four measured divergent thinking scores (i.e., Fluency, Elaboration, and
maximum Originality, but not mean Originality) were selected by the model and weighted in
the positive direction, implying that high levels of divergent thinking ability can be used to sort
actors from non-actors. Of these three divergent thinking attributes, Elaboration was the most
strongly weighted, suggesting that actors’ ability to expound on their ideas distinguishes them
from non-actors: a finding that appears to fit with the highly verbal demands of the acting pro-
fession. The Prospective Intolerance of Uncertainty scale was included in the model and
weighted negatively, indicating that actors have less fear of an unknown future than do non-
actors: a personality difference that may allow actors to survive in an unstable and under-
resourced profession. Also, despite being a non-significant comparison in the univariate analy-
sis above, the Uses of Emotion scale of the Emotional Intelligence measure was selected for the
model and weighted in the positive direction, which makes theoretical sense given the need to
use emotions during the acting process.
The personality facets of Openness, Orderliness, and Compassion were also selected for the
model and weighted positively, while the Intellect personality facet was selected for the model
Table 4. Predictive coefficients for LASSO models.
Psychological Predictor Sorting Actors from Non-Actors Sorting Professional from Student Actors
Logistic LASSO Post-LASSO Logit Logistic LASSO Post-LASSO Logit
Fluency 0.247 0.098 -- --
Elaboration 0.338 0.476 -- --
Originality (mean) -- -- 0.282 0.460
Originality (max) 0.232 0.442 -- --
Literary Activities 0.156 0.124 0.341 0.972
Musical Activities 0.817 1.118 -- --
Crafting Activities 0.242 0.503 -- --
Cooking Activities -0.239 -0.599 -0.289 -0.389
Visual Art Activities -- - - -- --
Performing Arts Activities 1.23 1.609 -- - -
Grit -- -- -- - -
Intolerance of Uncertainty (Prospective) -0.194 -0.569 -- --
Intolerance of Uncertainty (Inhibitory) -- -- 0.145 0.072
Self-emotional Appraisal -- -- - - --
Other-emotional Appraisal -- -- -0.126 -0.018
Uses of Emotion 0.114 0.173 - - --
Openness 0.291 0.366 -- --
Intellect -0.059 -0.426 - - --
Enthusiasm -- -- -- - -
Assertiveness 0.507 0.896 -- --
Industriousness -0.844 -1.388 - - --
Orderliness 0.212 0.776 -- --
Compassion 0.147 0.336 -- --
Politeness -- -- -- --
Volatility -- -- 0.029 0.297
Withdrawal -- -- -- --
Constant 1.651 2.083 -0.001 -0.891
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PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 18 / 26
but weighted negatively. Both the findings related to Openness and Compassion fit with gen-
eral expectations reviewed here, in that actors would be expected to be generally open to new
experiences, and compassionate to others, in order to develop the characters they are called
upon to embody and perform. The positive weighting of the Orderliness facet of the Conscien-
tiousness dimension was perhaps less expected, especially given the negative weighting of
Industriousness. Taken together, these findings imply that actors generally prefer to follow a
set schedule and prefer tidiness above disorder (positive weighting of Orderliness); while
actors also struggle to carry out plans, make major decisions, and resist being distracted (nega-
tive weighting of Industriousness). In our view, this set of findings highlights a general person-
ality that may be able to simultaneously support the rigorous demands of a rehearsal schedule,
while also allowing for the mind-wandering cognitive style that has long been associated with
original thought [76]. The Cooking scale of the Creative Activities Inventory was also weighted
negatively, suggesting that non-actors are more likely to express their creativity through cook-
ing than are actors: a finding that may suggest a preference on the part of actors for eating-out
or eating at work during rehearsals and performances.
Identifying professionals. Then, in order to more specifically analyze salient psychologi-
cal patterns among student and professional actors, the sample was restricted to include only
those participants who were actors, with student actors (n= 100) coded as 0 and professional
actors (n= 104) coded as 1. A LASSO model with the same 26 potential predictors was fit to
these data, and cross-validated with ten folds of the dataset. The psychological differences
among student and professional actors were more subtle than the differences among non-
actors and actors, and the unpenalized model reached an R-square of .24. The optimal λ
parameter was estimated to be .04, which corrected the penalized R-square down to .22. This
cross-validated, penalized LASSO model selected 6 predictors from the initial 26 to retain.
Based on this LASSO model’s predicted probability of each participant being a professional
actor (following the same >|<.50 rule as above), classification information for this model is
available in Table 3. As can be seen, the model was capable of correctly identifying 72.11% of
the professional actors (n = 75), and 63.00% (n = 63) of the student actors, with a total classifi-
cation accuracy of 67.7%. The LASSO predictive coefficients for the 6 included constructs, as
well as their coefficients from a post-LASSO logistic regression run only with these 6 predic-
tors, are available in Table 4.
Age is the most obvious difference between professional and student actors. When Age is
included as a predictor in this cross-validated LASSO model, the unpenalized R-square is
much higher (.82). The optimal λis then estimated as 2.83, correcting that R-square down to
.76. This penalized and cross-validated LASSO model also achieves a 95.6% classification rate.
However, given the focus in this investigation on psychological attributes of professional actors,
we decided to present and interpret the model with Age (and other demographic variables)
not included.
The most strongly weighted predictor in the psychologically focused LASSO model (with
the 67.7% classification accuracy) was the Literary scale of the Creative Activities Inventory,
which was weighted in the positive direction indicating that a higher degree of participation in
literary activities (e.g., writing stories or scripts) was a mark of a professional actor in this data-
set. In contrast, the Cooking scale of the Creative Activities Inventory was weighted in a nega-
tive direction by the model, suggesting that professional actors apply their creativity to
cooking significantly less than do the student actors in these data. Despite not being selected
for the LASSO model that sorted actors from non-actors, the mean Originality predictor was
selected to sort professional from student actors and was weighted in the positive direction.
Combined with the coefficient associated with maximal Originality in the earlier LASSO
model, this indicates that actors in general are distinguished by the production of at least one
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PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 19 / 26
highly original idea per AUT prompt, but professional actors can be identified as those who
produce ideas that are more Original on average.
The Inhibitory Anxiety scale of the Intolerance of Uncertainty measure was selected for this
model and weighted in the positive direction, implying that professional actors reported more
inhibition in response to uncertainty than did student actors, who were very tolerant of uncer-
tainty: a finding that appears to fit with the widely held conceptualization of student actors’
lifestyle as relatively stable and well-supported (either by caregivers or financial aid), and pro-
fessional actors’ lifestyle as unstable and under-resourced. The Other-emotional Appraisal
scale of the Emotional Intelligence measure was also selected for this model and weighted neg-
atively, indicating that professional actors reported less ability to perceive the emotions of oth-
ers than did undergraduate acting majors. As previously discussed in relation to the univariate
findings above, the greater Emotional Intelligence of student actors than professional actors
could potentially be explained by a self-report bias in students and better calibration to truth
in professionals; or potentially it could relate to a need within the professional acting commu-
nity to lessen emotional awareness, given their difficult and economically unstable lifestyle, in
comparison to the relatively stable lifestyle of students.
Evidence from social neuroscience research may also relate to this finding of greater Other-
emotional Appraisal in student actors. It is understood within the social neuroscience litera-
ture that the neurological system responsible for seeking rewards is highly influenced by the
social rewards available from peers, and that this system develops relatively early in adoles-
cence; in contrast, the neurological control system responsible for self-management is likely
not fully developed until an individual’s mid-20s [87,88]. Therefore, it may be that undergrad-
uate actors are closely emotionally attuned to their peers in their theater productions given
their as-yet-not-fully-developed neurological system, while professional actors have the adult
neurological capacity to control or ignore their emotional awareness when it is necessary.
Finally, the Volatility facet of Neuroticism was selected for this model and weighted in the pos-
itive direction, suggesting that professional actors reported being more prone to angry or
upset moods than were student actors: another specific finding that, in our view, likely relates
to the socially difficult and under-resourced aspects of the acting profession.
Key findings
This study has been the first to administer a wide-array of psychological measures (including
both creativity-related and personality attributes) to professional and student actors, as well as
a non-acting comparison group. As such this study has a number of findings to bring to the
current understanding of the psychology of actors and acting. Some very specific implications
of our findings are pointed out in the Results section above, and the overarching patterns that
require greater emphasis and detail are presented here, in the Discussion section, as Key
Actors display heightened divergent thinking ability. In line with hypotheses, both stu-
dent and professional actors displayed significantly higher levels of DT than did non-actors.
However, the patterns of DT-related findings were nuanced in terms of which dimensions of
DT were most strongly associated with status as an actor, or as a professional actor specifically.
For instance, three dimensions of DT: Fluency, Elaboration, and maximal Originality were
selected by the LASSO model to classify actors from non-actors, and among those three
dimensions, Elaboration was the most strongly weighted. This finding suggests that is an indi-
vidual’s ability to flesh-out or explain their ideas—even when their quantity of ideas (Fluency)
or maximal level of the novelty of those ideas is statistically controlled—that most distinguishes
The psychology of actors
PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 20 / 26
actors from non-actors. Further, although maximal Originality was selected as a significant
predictor by the LASSO model that classified actors and non-actors, the mean Originality of
AUT responses was selected by the LASSO model that classified student and professional
actors. In our view, this finding is a key contribution of the current study, in that it suggests
(and is the first to do so as far as we are aware) that participation in acting seems to require
individuals to be capable of generating at least one highly Original idea within an allotted
period of time, but professional success as an actor appears to specifically depend on an indi-
vidual’s capability to produce more original ideas on average, across all of the ideas they gener-
ate. Such a finding may be driven by the continuous demands on professional actors to
generate relatively novel suggestions or ideas, and therefore professionals may be required to
be Original thinkers on average across all of their generated ideas, while students are required
to generate a smaller number of Original ideas in their university theater work. This finding is
in line with research into other areas of expertise (e.g., medicine; [89]) that suggests that a dis-
tinguishing attribute of experts is the capability to produce high-quality work regularly and
across contexts, while students are more likely to produce very high-quality work sporadically.
Assertiveness and openness, not enthusiasm or intellect, identifies actors. In past work
on creativity in general, and actors and acting specifically [12,73] the personality dimensions
of Openness to Experience and Extraversion have been identified as two dimensions on which
actors would be expected to be high. However, by undertaking this analysis at the more finely-
grained personality facet level, this work showed that only one facet of each of these two larger
factors was positively predictive of an individual being an actor. Specifically, only the Openness
facet of the larger Openness to Experience factor (that also includes Intellect), and only the
Assertiveness facet of the Extraversion factor (that also included Enthusiasm) were positive
predictors. In addition, the Intellect facet of the Openness to Experience factor was actually a
negative predictor selected by the LASSO model to classify actors, while the Enthusiasm facet
was simply dropped by the algorithm. The strong weighting of the Assertiveness facet, rather
than the Enthusiasm facet of Extraversion appears to make sense in this context, in that Asser-
tiveness is indicated by items such as “I know how to captivate people”, that seem to correspond
to actors’ work well.
Professional actors are identified by their volatility. As discussed previously, when
demographic variables such as Age were entered into the LASSO model, professional actors
and student actors were easily distinguished. However, without demographic differences in
the model, the psychological differences between professional and student actors were subtler
in these data than were the differences between actors and non-actors. One predictor that was
utilized by the LASSO model to classify professional actors was their Volatility. This finding is
closely in line with previous work (e.g., [8,40]) that suggests professional actors can be distin-
guished from non-actors or student actors by their high-levels of negative personality traits.
Indicators of Volatility administered here included items such as “I get upset easily” and “I
change my mood a lot”, and, based on the overarching patterns in the univariate comparisons
and LASSO models conducted in this study, this emotional Volatility trait is an identifying
attribute of professional actors. As suggested in previous work [10], professional actors are spe-
cifically at risk for threats to their emotional well-being given the very high economic riskiness
of their profession, coupled with the high emotional vulnerability that is required of an actor
to do their work, which may contribute to them developing a highly emotionally volatile
In contrast to the highly volatile environment within which professional actors are situated,
student actors appear much more likely to be working in stable and supportive environments
(e.g., a conservatory setting), and may not be solely responsible for their own financial well-
being, relying instead on parental support or student loans. This major difference in
The psychology of actors
PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 21 / 26
environment may explain why professional actors displayed higher levels of Volatility in their
personality than did students. Another potentially influential factor in the development of Vol-
atility may be age and natural development, but the cross-sectional methodology utilized here
was unable to disentangle to effects of aging and development, on one hand, and systematic
changes in environmental stability, on the other. Future longitudinal work would be needed in
order to address these open questions. As can seen in Footnote 1 of this paper, when age was
included in the LASSO model that sorted professional from student actors, the classification
rate was much stronger (i.e., 96%). Such a finding implies that age is the clearest difference
between professional and student actors, but in this investigation, we chose to report and inter-
pret LASSO models without age, because the focus of this work was on psychological, not
demographic, attributes.
Like any research in the social sciences, this study has a number of limitations and delimitations
that should be considered when generalizing its findings. For example, one measurement-related
limitation of this study was our sole reliance on verbal—rather than figural—DT tasks. In our
view, the focus on verbal DT was a way to tailor the measurement procedures of this study to the
highly verbal work of professional and student actors, but it remains a future direction to
uncover whether statistically or practically significant patterns could be uncovered using figural
DT tasks (which typically require drawing). In addition, this research utilized three specific
groups of participants that differed on their acting status (i.e., professionals, students, and non-
actors) in order to make inferences about what distinguished professional and student actors
from each other and from the general population. However, to fully understand the trajectory of
expertise development within the acting profession, longitudinal data collection in which student
actors are followed during their transition to professional life would be needed. This longitudinal
work may be particularly difficult and costly given the very low proportion of undergraduate act-
ing students who persist in the profession after graduation: an attribute of artistic career develop-
ment that distinguishes it from other areas of education and expertise. Finally, it is possible that
student or professional actors that tend to book higher- or lower-profile roles (e.g., lead roles ver-
sus ensemble roles) also differ systematically in their psychological attributes. In this study, we
did not ascertain among the student or professional actors which individuals in the sample were
being cast in more central roles, and this appears to be a fertile ground for future research that
drills deeper into the psychology of student and professional actors.
For those of us who are inspired and moved by the performing arts, the work of the profes-
sional actor is a powerful and important art that deserves to be strongly valued by society. In
addition, it is understood that individuals differ psychologically from one another, and those
differences are at least in part driven by their professional or educational contexts, and con-
comitantly that those psychological differences among individuals can contribute greatly to
professional or educational success. This study has specifically endeavored to increase what is
known about the psychological individual differences that distinguish professional actors. In
the future, these results may potentially be useful not only for the psychological research com-
munity but also for actors themselves, and especially for educators that train undergraduate
level student actors, or organizations of professional actors (e.g., Actor’s Equity) who seek to
understand the needs of their members. As such, this study contributes to what we see as a crit-
ically important endeavor for psychology and the social sciences: a deep understanding of the
mental attributes that play a role in every area of the human experience.
The psychology of actors
PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 22 / 26
The authors would like to thank Dr. Paula Thomson and one other anonymous expert
reviewer for their very insightful comments on this manuscript during the review process.
Author Contributions
Conceptualization: Denis Dumas, Michael Doherty.
Data curation: Michael Doherty, Peter Organisciak.
Formal analysis: Denis Dumas, Peter Organisciak.
Methodology: Denis Dumas, Peter Organisciak.
Project administration: Denis Dumas, Michael Doherty.
Software: Denis Dumas, Peter Organisciak.
Writing – original draft: Denis Dumas.
Writing – review & editing: Denis Dumas, Michael Doherty, Peter Organisciak.
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The psychology of actors
PLOS ONE | October 22, 2020 26 / 26
... Responses are represented as the vector of their summed and weighted words in semantic space. Semantic similarity between terms can be calculated as the cosine of the angle between their vectors (Oniani, 2020;Dumas et al., 2020a). ...
... For the second study, we re-analyzed data collected by Dumas et al. (2020a). The data is archived and can be accessed on Zenodo (LINK:; DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3899578). ...
... The data is archived and can be accessed on Zenodo (LINK:; DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3899578). Dumas et al. (2020a) used text-mining Text-mining mean scores Text-mining maximum scores Text-mining sum scores Publisher-generated scores Frontiers in Psychology 09 to examine originality on the AUT. ...
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In creativity research, ideational flexibility, the ability to generate ideas by shifting between concepts, has long been the focus of investigation. However, psychometric work to develop measurement procedures for flexibility has generally lagged behind other creativity-relevant constructs such as fluency and originality. Here, we build from extant research to theoretically posit, and then empirically validate, a text-mining based method for measuring flexibility in verbal divergent thinking (DT) responses. The empirical validation of this method is accomplished in two studies. In the first study, we use the verbal form of the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT) to demonstrate that our novel flexibility scoring method strongly and positively correlates with traditionally used TTCT flexibility scores. In the second study, we conduct a confirmatory factor analysis using the Alternate Uses Task to show reliability and construct validity of our text-mining based flexibility scoring. In addition, we also examine the relationship between personality facets and flexibility of ideas to provide criterion validity of our scoring methodology. Given the psychometric evidence presented here and the practicality of automated scores, we recommend adopting this new method which provides a less labor-intensive and less costly objective measurement of flexibility.
... Emotion (2022) Page 7 of 38 evidence there is suggests that actors may be different, especially in terms of emotion-related processes and traits, than non-actors. For example, evidence indicates that actors are more open, assertive, creative, and volatile than non-actors (Dumas et al., 2020), that felt emotions are crucial to actors' accurate portrayal of emotions (Gosselin et al., 1995), that acting training supports children's emotional development (Goldstein & Lerner, 2018), and that self-reported interoceptive ability interacts with types of acting training to predict emotion simulation success (Jackson & Muir, 2019). Improved characterization of any differences between actors and nonactors, and the source of those differences, could have significant consequences for mental health across clinical and non-clinical populations, especially if there is evidence that training as an actor produces these differences, a possibility made more likely by recent findings that training may improve some metacognitive abilities (Carpenter et al., 2019). ...
Both accurately sensing our own bodily signals and knowing whether we have accurately sensed them may contribute to a successful emotional life, but there is little evidence on whether these physiological perceptual and metacognitive abilities systematically differ between people. Here, we examined whether actors, who receive substantial training in the production, awareness, and control of emotion, and nonactor controls differed in interoceptive ability (the perception of internal bodily signals) and/or metacognition about interoceptive accuracy (awareness of that perception), and explored potential sources of individual differences in and consequences of these abilities including correlational relationships with state and trait anxiety, proxies for acting ability, and the amount of acting training. Participants performed a heartbeat detection task in which they judged whether tones were played synchronously or delayed relative to their heartbeats, and then rated their metacognitive confidence in that judgment. Cardiac interoceptive accuracy and metacognitive awareness of interoceptive accuracy were independent, and while actors' and controls' interoceptive accuracy was not significantly different, actors had consistently superior metacognitive awareness of interoception. Exploratory analyses additionally suggest that this metacognitive ability may be correlated with measures of acting ability, but not the duration of acting training. Interoceptive accuracy and metacognitive insight into that accuracy appear to be separate abilities, and while actors may be no more accurate in reading their bodies, their metacognitive insight means they know better when they're accurate and when they're not. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
... Machine learning models should supplement, not replace, currently used models, expanding the type of research questions psychologists can answer. In this tutorial, we focus on the LASSO, which has been used in a variety of behavioral science studies (Ammerman et al., 2018;Comulada et al., 2021;Dumas et al., 2020;Feng et al., 2020;Harris et al., 2020;Hung et al., 2020;Immekus et al., 2019;Smith et al.,2019), scrutinized in simulation studies (Chen & Wang, 2013;Thao & Geskus, 2019), and recommended for wider use in the behavioral sciences (Johnson & Sinharay, 2011;McNeish, 2015). The approaches discussed in this tutorial could readily be applied to the elastic net as well. ...
Psychological researchers often use standard linear regression to identify relevant predictors of an outcome of interest, but challenges emerge with incomplete data and growing numbers of candidate predictors. Regularization methods like the LASSO can reduce the risk of overfitting, increase model interpretability, and improve prediction in future samples; however, handling missing data when using regularization-based variable selection methods is complicated. Using listwise deletion or an ad hoc imputation strategy to deal with missing data when using regularization methods can lead to loss of precision, substantial bias, and a reduction in predictive ability. In this tutorial, we describe three approaches for fitting a LASSO when using multiple imputation to handle missing data and illustrate how to implement these approaches in practice with an applied example. We discuss implications of each approach and describe additional research that would help solidify recommendations for best practices. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
p>This paper examines the concepts of "competence" and "aptitude" in the federal state educational standards. The study substantiates the need for returning to the theoretical notions of aptitude, as developed in domestic psychology, when training specialists for creative professions. The authors analyse the content dynamics of the higher education standards in the acting profession across 2002, 2010, 2017 and 2021. The notion of aptitude is considered from the standpoint of S. L. Rubinstein's and A. N. Leontiev's activity theory and B. M. Teplov's concept of individual differences. Content analysis of the concepts of "competence" and "aptitude" demonstrates that the competence-based approach helps sustain the graduate's universal characteristics, which does not align with the educational process in the acting profession, focused on the individual approach and talent development. The authors note that the content of competencies does not account for the subject's unique characteristics, and is reduced to knowledge, skills, and abilities. The study thus emphasises the relevance of establishing a psycho-pedagogical service in higher education for creative professions</p
Alternate Uses Test (AUT) is one of the most popular divergent thinking tasks and commonly used to measure creativity. Researchers using AUT often pick an everyday object and instruct participants to think of possible uses for it. Yet, the word frequency of the selected objects may impact the outcomes. The present study investigates the variation in the fluency scores from AUT in terms of word frequency values of the selected everyday object. We expected a positive relationship between the word frequency metrics and the fluency scores when other potential factors are controlled such as time-on-task, explicit instructions, the form of task administration and a number of various psycholinguistic characteristics. The mean effect (average fluency score) is 9.08, 95% [7.54, 10.61] from 114 effects from 31 studies. There was a significant interaction effect of Time-on-Task and Word Frequency (β = -.01, t (3.05) = -3.51, p = .038). These findings indicate that word frequency is correlated with fluency scores under strict time conditions, and this effect seems to disappear with lenient time conditions. The results are discussed based on the recommended assessment practices in the literature.
Today creativity is increasingly recognized as an essential component of success. The purpose of the study is to test a method of consensus assessment of contemporary dance, which allows a viewer to subconsciously assess the manifestation of creativity in contemporary dance. The sample of participants was formed on the basis of users of Chinese social networks (WeChat, Weibo, Qzone, Youku) and consisted of 46 dancers, 12 choreographers and 123 spectators. The methodology of the experiment is based on the LAVAAN package. The results showed that the presence of creative experience of a rater has a positive effect on the rating score of the creativity component. At the same time, self-proclaimed experts in creativity gave lower points to the creativity in dance videos. It can be argued that the understanding of contemporary dance is much greater for those who have had experience of choreographing dances; simply teaching dance does not necessarily develop the ability to comprehend its meaning. The use of the Likert scale has demonstrated its effectiveness in the analysis of contemporary dance. The results of the study can be useful in the field of choreography, pedagogy, sociology and psychology in the aspect of creativity and culture.
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One of the best-known and most frequently used measures of creative idea generation is the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT). The TTCT Verbal, assessing verbal ideation, contains two forms created to be used interchangeably by researchers and practitioners. However, the parallel forms reliability of the two versions of the TTCT Verbal has not been examined for over 50 years. This study provides a long-needed evaluation of the parallel forms reliability of the TTCT Verbal by correlating publisher generated and text-mining-based scores across the forms. The relatively weak relationship between the two forms, ranging between .21 and .40 for the overall TTCT Verbal and ranging between .03 and .33 for the individual TTCT Verbal tasks, suggests that caution should be exercised when researchers and practitioners use the two forms as equivalent measures of verbal creative idea generation.
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Why does conscientiousness matter for education? How is conscientiousness conceptualized in the field of research on education? How do socio-emotional (SE) skills relate to conscientiousness? In an effort to help answer these questions, we review the current research on conscientiousness in education. Specifically, we examine (1) how conscientiousness is defined, (2) the assessment of conscientiousness, (3) the relation between conscientiousness and educational outcomes, (4) whether too much conscientiousness may be a bad thing, (5) the relation between conscientiousness and conceptually related educational constructs, (6) the changeability of conscientiousness and the importance of that fact to education, and (7) the challenges of assessing conscientiousness across cultures.
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Here, we used a cognitive interview methodology and a secondary-data re-sampling technique, to closely examine a curious finding from the recent literature: professional actors appear to be less selective than the general population in the analogies they map, and actors appear to posit higher-order connections among analogical word pairs that were written to be non-valid. Our results suggested that valid and non-valid analogies may be less of a categorical distinction, and more about the degree of semantic distance that separates the analogues. We found that actors were indeed capable of mapping extremely distant analogues, and to do so they drew on four key types of analogies: functional, visual, temporal, and symbolic. We also found substantial positive correlations among actors’ analogical mapping ability and their divergent thinking and neuroticism; and we found significant negative correlations among the analogical mappings and actors’ extraversion and openness.
This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal ( This article has been retracted at the request of the Editors-in-Chief. After a thorough investigation, the Editors have concluded that the acceptance of this article was partly based upon the positive advice of one illegitimate reviewer report. The report was submitted from an email account which was provided to the journal as a suggested reviewer during the submission of the article. Although purportedly a real reviewer account, the Editors have concluded that this was not of an appropriate, independent reviewer. This manipulation of the peer-review process represents a clear violation of the fundamentals of peer review, our publishing policies, and publishing ethics standards. Apologies are offered to the reviewer whose identity was assumed and to the readers of the journal that this deception was not detected during the submission process.
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The present study was inspired by Barron’s (1963) description of creative individuals as “occasionally crazier, yet adamantly saner” than the general population. As suggested by this description, we hypothesized that some individuals embody a pattern of both psychological vulnerabilities and resources and that this pattern is more likely to be present in artists than nonartists. We analyzed intra-individual patterns of psychological vulnerabilities (anxiety, depression, stress) and resources (psychological well-being, ego-resilience, hope) and identified distinct clusters of individuals, including those expected from the negative correlation between resources and vulnerabilities (high vulnerabilities, low resources; low vulnerabilities, high resources), and also a cluster including both moderately high vulnerabilities and resources. As hypothesized, the cluster with both vulnerabilities and resources had more artists than non-artists. Exploratory analyses showed that creative achievement is predicted by the interaction of high vulnerabilities and resources and that this effect is significant beyond the predictive power of openness to experience and age.
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Within creativity research, interest and capability in utilizing text-mining models to quantify the Originality of participant responses to Divergent Thinking tasks has risen sharply over the last decade, with many extant studies fruitfully using such methods to uncover substantive patterns among creativity-relevant constructs. However, no systematic psychometric investigation of the reliability and validity of human-rated Originality scores, and scores from various freely available text-mining systems, exists in the literature. Here we conduct such an investigation with the Alternate Uses Task. We demonstrate that, despite their inherent subjectivity, human-rated Originality scores displayed the highest reliability at both the composite and latent factor levels. However, the text-mining system GloVe 840B was highly capable of approximating human-rated scores both in its measurement properties and its correlations to various creativity-related criteria including ideational Fluency, Elaboration, Openness, Intellect, and self-reported Creative Activities. We conclude that, in conjunction with other salient indicators of creative potential, text-mining models (and especially the GloVe 840B system) are capable of supporting reliable and valid inferences about Divergent Thinking. An open access system for producing the Originality scores that were psychometrically examined in this paper is available for free at our website: Please use for your research and let us know if you encounter any bugs!
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During the process of acting, actors have to embody the characters that they are portraying by changing their vocal and gestural features to match standard conceptions of the characters. In this experimental study of acting, we had professional actors portray a series of stock characters (e.g., king, bully, lover), which were organized according to a predictive scheme based on the 2 orthogonal personality dimensions of assertiveness and cooperativeness. We measured 12 prosodic features of the actors' vocal productions, as related to pitch, loudness, timbre, and duration/timing. The results showed a significant effect of character assertiveness on all 12 vocal parameters, but a weaker effect of cooperativeness on fewer vocal parameters. These findings comprise the first experimental analysis of vocal gesturing during character portrayal in actors and demonstrate that actors reliably manipulate prosodic cues in a contrastive manner to differentiate characters based on their personality traits. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
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Given how central emotions are to the field of acting, surprisingly little research has examined how actors' emotional tendencies and skills vary from other individuals. In a sample of 284 college students, we investigated how theater majors differed from other students who have limited or no experience with acting. We expected that theater majors would be more temperamentally emotional, have more positive attitudes about emotions, have better awareness and understanding of their own emotions, and be more skilled at regulating and identifying emotions. Results indicated that theater majors (compared with those with no acting experience or those with some experience) reported higher temperamental sadness and fear, more positive views toward anger and sadness, greater awareness of their own emotions, and greater ability to amplify their emotions. Theater majors more accurately identified pride expressions than nonactors, but students in the no-acting group more accurately identified anger expressions than those with some acting experience and theater majors. Overall, this study advances current understanding of how actors differ emotionally from other individuals and provides new insight into variations in temperament, emotional beliefs, and regulatory and perceptual skills.
Creativity has been consistently linked to the default mode network (DMN) and conscientiousness. However, the specific core regions that are involved in the relationship between the DMN and creativity and the manner in which conscientiousness influences the neural mechanism that underlies creativity remain unexplored. Therefore, in the present study, we used a combination of graph theory techniques and affinity propagation clustering (APC) to identify the core subnetworks of the DMN that are related to creativity and examine predictive relationships between creativity and resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC). Additionally, the moderating role that two lower-order facets of conscientiousness, namely, industriousness and orderliness, play in this relationship was explored. The results showed that creativity was positively associated with the within-module degree (WMD) of one subnetwork of DMN (i.e., DMN2) and that industriousness was the only facet of conscientiousness that moderated this relationship. Specifically, creativity could be successfully predicted from the RSFC between DMN2 regions and all DMN regions in the high-industriousness group but not the low-industriousness group. Taken together, these results suggest that a core DMN subnetwork is crucial for creativity and that industriousness moderates the association between creativity and the DMN subnetwork.
This article reviews research on divergent thinking (DT) and the new methods that have recently been developed. Special attention is given to the theory of Literal DT, where creative cognition does in fact branch out and diverge rather than follow linear pathways. Even more attention is given to the growing research showing the value of computerized testing and scoring of DT tasks. We revisit some of the major issues around DT tasks and explore possible solutions that have emerged from new and classic works. A few pitfalls while testing DT are noted in this review and connections made to how the research supports the validity of DT tests.
Divergent thinking tests are often used in creativity research as measures of creative potential. However, measurement approaches across studies vary to a great extent. One facet of divergent thinking measurement that contributes strongly to differences across studies is the scoring of participants’ responses. Most commonly, responses are scored for fluency, flexibility, and originality. However, even with respect to only one dimension (e.g., originality), scoring decisions vary extensively. In the current work, a systematic framework for practical scoring decisions was developed. Scoring dimensions, instruction-scoring fit, adequacy of responses, objectivity (vs. subjectivity), level of scoring (response vs. ideational pool level), and the method of aggregation were identified as determining factors of divergent thinking test scoring. In addition, recommendations and guidelines for making these decisions and reporting the information in papers have been provided.