The results of two studies indicate that people who are high in openness to new experience and high in neuroticism are likely to be bloggers.
That from a study forwarded along to Richard Florida by Cambridge ‘personality psychologist’ Jason Rentfrow. Dig deeper, and the following variety of science is what you find:
Given that the characteristics of individuals high in openness include imagination, curiosity, artistic talent, intelligence, and diversity in interests (John & Srivastava, 1999; McCrae & Costa, 1986), it is not surprising that this is a characteristic of bloggers. Blogging is both a form of self-expression as well as a form of online behavior so it stands to reason that creative individuals who are willing to try new things are likely to blog. Indeed, it may be that individuals who are high in openness to new experience are likely to be the individuals who are the ?rst to adopt new technology. Since blogging is a relatively new form of online self-expression, this relationship may change over time as more people start to keep a blog. Future research should examine whether there is any such relationship between technology adoption and openness to new experience and whether the relationship between blogging and openness persists as blogging becomes more widely adopted.
Ah — if it’s in John & Srivastava, it must be true! What’s surprising is how effortlessly the authors arrive at their presumptions. Imaginative, curious, artistic, talented, and intelligent polymaths could just as easily be cast as rigorously discriminatory folk who can’t excel voraciously across categories unless they ruthlessly filter out, disregard, or outright reject all manner of ‘new experiences’ — especially ones that pour out of the new-experience boxes of TV and the pop market. Similarly, blogging might just as well be characterized as the province of obsessives, not neurotics — people concerned over and over again with the same damn thing, whether it’s political philosophy, gardening, those crazy liberals/conservatives, one’s newborn child, the intersection of religion and public life . . . whatever. The authors themselves hint that tech-savvy first-adopters especially might be inclined to view blogging, like email, as yesterday’s news, really only more likely to have blogged.
The opportunity for science here is ruined by the most unscientific vision of ‘the creative personality’ that drives the whole study. The creative personality, above all, is ‘high in openness to new experience’. All we need to do now is define — meaning, of course, quantify — not only highness but openness, newness, and experienceness: as ridiculous a prospect as any that might be conceived. All to say that novelty-obsessed neurotics — who knows why they’re neurotic! — are ‘likely’ to blog. Rather than leading us to question whether our portrait of the creative genius reflects some kind of systematic wish bias, that portrait is used to scientifically legitimize a particular activity as the sort of thing a cool person is apt to do. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Hipology. Prepare youself, after that endowed chair in Trans Studies, for whole departments devoted to Cool Studies. Happiness Studies is already too confining, too dismissive of individualism; we are already a skip and a jump away from medically defining obsession and neurosis — that is, sickness — as symptoms or features of coolness — that is, health. And what does my devotion to — sorry, anxiety over — blogging about issues like that tell us?