Jazz musicians are more creative than classical musicians (research)

A new study compared the personality and creativity of classical, jazz, and folk musicians. As Jazz musicians are more into improvisation, it’s not that surprising that they deemed more creative than classical musicians. Jazz musicians showed also higher divergent thinking ability than both folk and classical musicians. If you look at the Big Five-personality traits, most of the traits aren’t significant different when looking at the musical genres, but the study also describes folk musicians as more extraverted (but significant only at .05 level while the creativity differences.

Also interesting is this insight:

…we did not observe group differences in error orientation or motivational variables between music genres in this study. This is an interesting finding as one might have expected that jazz musicians e.g. are more comfortable with risk taking during their improvisational play.

Still, there is an important thing to know about this study, they should rather say student musicians. A total of 120 students enrolled in the study of instrumental pedagogy at the University of Music and Arts in Graz participated in this study, after exclusion a n of 99 students remained. Also when you read the study, the emphasis is strongly on Jazz musicians, the other 2 genres are more used as a means of comparison.

Hat tip to @daanballegeer for mentioning this study.

Abstract of the study (open access when writing this blog):

The music genre of jazz is commonly associated with creativity. However, this association has hardly been formally tested. Therefore, this study aimed at examining whether jazz musicians actually differ in creativity and personality from musicians of other music genres. We compared students of classical music, jazz music, and folk music with respect to their musical activities, psychometric creativity and different aspects of personality. In line with expectations, jazz musicians are more frequently engaged in extracurricular musical activities, and also complete a higher number of creative musical achievements. Additionally, jazz musicians show higher ideational creativity as measured by divergent thinking tasks, and tend to be more open to new experiences than classical musicians. This study provides first empirical evidence that jazz musicians show particularly high creativity with respect to domain-specific musical accomplishments but also in terms of domain-general indicators of divergent thinking ability that may be relevant for musical improvisation. The findings are further discussed with respect to differences in formal and informal learning approaches between music genres.

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