Monday, October 08, 2007

Richard Florida's Spiky Creative Cities Linked to Creative Strengths

[8 October 2007 - Applied Imagination blog - By Steven Dahlberg, Editor] At the 2006 Gallup International Positive Psychology Summit, economist Richard Florida talked about his "world is spiky" theory and the clustering of creative people in particular cities and regions (thus the "spikes" when viewed on a 3D map).

University of Michigan psychologist Christopher Peterson had an a-ha moment during that speech and began to wonder whether character strengths matter to where you live. Peterson is a professor of psychology and has created a classification system for human strengths and virtues. He spearheaded the development of "Values in Action" (VIA), a key assessment tool from the positive psychology field for measuring character strengths.

Following Peterson's insight from the 2006 Summit, he and colleague Nansook Park examined the collected VIA responses (along with respondents' zip codes) and Richard Florida's creativity scores (based on talent, tolerance and technology of cities) to look at whether people who live in different cities (with more than 300,000 people) have different strengths of character. They reported their initial findings last week at the 2007 Gallup International Positive Psychology Summit:
  • There is a direct relationship between character strengths - such as appreciation of beauty, creativity, curiosity and a love of learning - and a city's creativity rating. These particular character strengths are individual-focused, head strengths.
  • There is an inverse relationship between character strengths and a city's creativity rating. That is, creative cities are low in the character strengths that connect people.
So, for instance, New York is high in creativity with creative people doing creative things. However, this creativity happens more individualistically and with a lower presence of the strengths that help people connect to each other. (How many times have we heard that the great metropolis of New York City is a lonely place, where it is difficult to meet people?) Peterson also said the more creative the city, the lower the presence of meaning and the greater the search for meaning.

Watch for the full paper about this coming from Peterson and Park.

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