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October 2021

Religious traditions as contexts of historical creativity: patterns of scientific and artistic achievement and their stability

Journal/Book: Pers Indiv Differ. 1999; 26: the Boulevard Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford Ox5 1GB, England. Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd. 1125-1135.

Abstract: Because fragmentary evidence linking outstanding intellectual achievement to Protestant and Jewish family background has left unclear how far any general relationship between religious background and 'historical creativity' holds across arts and sciences, the relative fruitfulness of western religious traditions was explored by regression analysis on a data-base of nearly 1,400 notable 19th and 20th century achievers in six science-related and three arts domains. It was hypothesized that (I)religious traditions are each equipotential across countries, national totals of exceptional achievers in any domain depending simply on the numerical strength of each tradition; (2) Protestant fruitfulness is greater in the sciences, Catholic in the arts and (3) differences will have declined over time. The first two hypotheses were confirmed. More variance was explained by Protestant and Catholic totals separately than by overall population size and Protestant fractions were more productive in all sciences than Catholic, which fared better in the arts. However, no reduction was found in these differences over time. Jewish fractions showed the highest incidence of creativity, but less equipotentiality and no general arts-science difference. It is concluded that creativity in arts and sciences depends strongly on increasingly hidden cultural roots in western society.

Note: Article Berry C, Univ E London, Dept Psychol, Romford Rd, London E15 4LZ, ENGLAND

Keyword(s): creativity; eminence; achievement; religion; science; arts; family background

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