Inspiration in the writer-reader encounter: Creativity, transmission, contagion, and personality similarity
Presenter: Todd Thrash, Professor, College of William & Mary
5101 Tolman Hall
Inspiration is a motivational state in which an individual feels compelled to transmit, actualize, or express ideas. In this colloquium I present a series of studies of the role of inspiration in the writer-reader encounter. Key findings include the following: (a) Writer inspiration predicts the creativity of the resulting text, whereas writer effort tends to be a poor predictor. (b) Inspiration mediates transmission of creative ideas from their source (e.g., imagination) to their realization as concrete texts. (c) Inspired writers tend to be inspiring to readers due to the insightfulness and pleasantness of their texts. (d) Readers high in openness to experience are prone to writer-reader inspiration contagion, because these readers are tolerant of the originality and sublimity of inspired writing. (e) Readers tend to be inspired by texts written by writers whose personalities resemble their own. Discussion focuses on the inspiration versus perspiration debate, the centrality of the person-text encounter to existential well-being, and the role of openness and inspiration in the transmission and evolution of culture.