99U is Behance’s education arm, where we share tips & insights on making ideas happen. Through a web magazine, bestselling book and annual conference, we share best practices from the world’s most productive creative people.
One thing that separates the great innovators from everyone else is that they seem to know a lot about a wide variety of topics. They are expert generalists. Their wide knowledge base supports their creativity.
As it turns out, there are two personality traits that are key for expert generalists: Openness to Experience and Need for Cognition.
Openness to Experience is one of the Big Five personality characteristics identified by psychologists. The Big Five are the characteristics that reflect the biggest differences between people in the way they act. Openness to Experience is the degree to which a person is willing to consider new ideas and opportunities. Some people enjoy the prospect of doing something new and thinking about new things. Other people prefer to stick with familiar ideas and activities.