Subgroups of traits clarified by their low ends

© August 2010 Paul Cooijmans

Introduction and structure

To further clarify the subgroups of traits that make up genius and creativity, the subgroups will be discussed in terms of their low ends, their opposites. For information, these subgroups and their role in the whole are first shown in an overview:

ConscientiousnessIntelligenceAssociative horizon
Ethics Ego-strength Ability-fostering Abilities Divergence Instinct-detachment

The high ends of most of these subgroups of traits have been described in the articles Conscientiousness and Associative horizon. Considering the below clarifications one should keep in mind that in reality a person has a position on each of these groups of traits and is not fully characterized by describing just one extreme trait. The latter tends to create a caricature. A real personality is a combination of positions on many traits.

The subgroups' low ends


To be unethical by nature, from within, means to have no conscience; to feel no inner resistance against lying, being insincere, cheating, insulting, hurting others, letting others down, or otherwise treating others unfairly. Obviously, these characteristics put one at risk of (although in themselves do not suffice for) becoming an evil person, an anti-social, a criminal, a psychopath, an inferior who should better not exist. Of all human features, the low end of the Ethics scale is what the most urgently must be reduced in its occurrence frequency, or rather, must be cut off, after which the then low end will be less low.

That not all of low ethics become evil is because people in general have low instinct-detachment as well, that is: are highly driven by ancient mammalian instincts. This means they are suggestible, socializable, conformist, have herd-mentality, can be conditioned into socially desirable behaviour. It is a thin layer of veneer and completely insincere, but it is how human societies have stuck together so far.

Socialization only works on the instinct-driven though; those with strong resistance to these mammalian instincts on the other hand - the ones with wide associative horizon - can not be brainwashed into social behaviour. If such persons happen to be low in ethics as well, this combination will tend to make them anti-social or psychopathic. Wide associative horizon therefore is something that is shared between criminals and creative persons; between psychopaths and geniuses. In psychiatry, the personality factor Psychoticism, discovered by Hans Eysenck, is known to play a similar role, to be high in both anti-socials and creative people.

It will be clear from the above that the only people who are genuinely useful when it comes to the ethical spectrum are those who have high ethics from within, while also being highly instinct-detached, that is, not being able to be influenced, socialized by their environment, into unethical behaviour. These people will not lie, cross when the traffic lights are red, steal, rob, kill, slaughter their neighbours etcetera, just because "everyone does it"; they know from within what is right and wrong and are immune to suggestion and social pressure. Since ethical values are rooted in logic, this superior state of being requires intelligence (which logically implies not that all intelligent have this state; yes, the principle of "a cow is an animal but not all animals are cows" can alas not be taken for granted but has to be pointed out with each instance again for the sake of part of the readers, as experience shows one otherwise receives reactions like "What!? So you are saying that all intelligent people ...?!").


The person low in ego-strength is spineless and prone to habituation (habituation: needing ever more of a particular stimulus to obtain a given effect). One has no willpower or inner drive, can not delay gratification, lacks the self-obvious certainty or conviction of being right in one's insights, views, the confidence of being correct and objective in one's observations or perceptions. As a result and on the whole, such a person is without initiative, passive, apathic, indifferent, and indulges in bad habits.

In addition, ego-weak subjects may enjoy self-pity, self-hatred, guilt, and "away with me, the others are better" mentality. Note the word "enjoy"; they do not suffer from it, but rather derive their raison d'être from it, while at the same time it keeps them from doing anything useful or creative, for then they would lose what keeps them going: the self-contempt they so thoroughly derive pleasure from.

It is impossible to miss the similarity between these features and those seen in many abusers of drugs - perhaps most particularly marihuana and hashish, nowadays called "cannabis" - as well as the similarity with especially male members of the populations of countries that have long suffered under Marxist-oriented totalitarian systems of rule.

Regarding recreational drugs, it is logically clear that being prone to habituation disposes for addiction in the first place, while secondly it is empirically observed that many drug abusers lose ego-strength over time as a result of their habit. This sad vicious circle is hard to escape, and therefore allowing or promoting recreational drug use is an effective political tool to destroy ego-strength in a population, rendering people passive and without initiative or strong opinions.

Regarding Marxist totalitarian systems of rule, it is apparent that personal initiative and having strong convictions of one's own are not welcome thereunder, and that individuals of high ego-strength are eradicated in large numbers. Clearly, such a system can only function with ego-weak citizens. One may imagine that over several generations this has a dysgenic effect, resulting in destruction of ego-strength at the genetic level. In this light one must see the phenomenon that women from former communist countries want to marry men from the West, typically complaining that those in their own country are spineless alcoholics. That this deterioration is observed in men rather than in women may relate to the possible fact that high ego-strength is more prominent in men than in women, so that the latter are less affected by a curtailing of it.

Considering the two similarities explained above, it makes sense that political movements of Marxist orientation tend to support the legalization of recreational drugs, especially of cannabis. Such would render citizens the way a Marxist system of rule requires them. It may also help to make clear why those movements emphasize and promote feminine characteristics and disapprove of masculine ones, to thus feminize society; why they want masculine men to emancipate, become "soft", to behave like women or feminized men. All of that fits the reduction of ego-strength imperative to achieve Marxist rule.

Furthermore, ego-weakness makes one less suitable for verification purposes, as such a person lacks the confidence that one's perceptions, observations, inferences, or notions are correct, correspond to an objective reality. If a tree falls in the forest and only ego-weak witness it, the tree has not really fallen. In fact, awareness of an objective reality outside oneself is low or absent in these subjects, which can therefore easily be led to accept relativistic statements like "truth does not exist" or "all truths are relative". An inclination in the ego-weak that follows from this is to, whenever something does not suit one, simply deny or ignore it and state it to be differently (such that it does suit one), and subsequently and delusionally believe it now is indeed as one has stated it to be. The subjective experience or desired state of being is the only "reality" for the ego-weak, lacking as they are in awareness of an actual reality external to them. Attentive readers will recognize this inclination on the macro level in Marxist-oriented systems and organizations, a classic and sublime example being the work of Lysenko in the former Soviet Union.

Ability-fostering traits

To be low in ability-fostering traits means to be lax, sloppy, incoherent, undependable, lazy, tardy, prone to give up, short of attention span, postponing, and easily bored. To "live by the day", carpe diem, say mañana mañana. As a result one can not do anything useful with whatever talents or positive traits one may otherwise have.

These people are by others often perceived as "stupid", even though they may be of normal or higher intelligence. There exist several types of "stupidity", and low intelligence is only one thereof and not required in the other. There is hope for the lax (as one may call them for short): This subgroup of traits is likely the only one that can be improved significantly, and therewith the only aspect of creativity - apart from ability itself - that one can "work" on. Ability-fostering traits may be increased in one of two ways, depending on one's further personality: If one possesses ego-strength, willpower can be used to overcome one's laxity through self-discipline. In the unfortunate other case, discipline imposed by others, as in through the cane, remains the only option.


Abilities differ from most of the (non-ability) personality traits in two ways: 1) They intercorrelate positively, and 2) They can in most cases be learnt, practised, and improved.

The positive intercorrelations group the abilities naturally in a hierarchy, with on top the most general ones which have the highest intercorrelations, and toward the bottom the most specific ones which have the lowest intercorrelations. There is no fundamental difference between mental, perceptual, motoric, physical, or whatever kinds of abilities. In general, the more specific an ability is, the greater the extent to which it can and has to be learnt, practised, and improved. The more general abilities represent the components or factors that are common to many or all of the specific abilities, and can be improved to a lesser extent, the more general they are. The natural way to improve one's ability level is to study and practise the specific abilities needed for whatever one is aiming to to undertake. The general abilities, the common factors, are developed in that bottom-up process. They express themselves through the specific abilities but can not be observed directly, so without the hard work of learning the specific abilities one will never know one's potential and limitations.

A trap especially young people fall into these days is to believe that their intelligence - or general ability - is too low for their aspired study and career, and that this intelligence has to be "improved" first in some magical way before beginning their studies. They believe that certain exercises, computer games, or pills can raise their I.Q., so that then they will have it easy and study and work will be a breeze. It is the old phenomenon of "wanting a champagne taste on a beer budget" again. But of course, the development of one's abilities lies in exactly the hard labour they are thus trying to avoid... a sad case of shooting oneself in the foot.

Those low in abilities are often seen as stupid, but as said this is only one of several types of perceived "stupidity". There are two basic causes of low ability: 1) Low general ability, which makes it hard to learn any specific ability; 2) A personality structure that hinders the development of one's abilities, for instance having low ability-fostering traits. Psychological tests are helpful to distinguish between these causes, and intelligence tests were originally invented for exactly this purpose; to separate the stupid from the lazy, as one used to phrase it.

Another matter regarding low ability is that people tend to reach their peak well into adulthood, and that the curve leading to the peak differs per individual, and also differs between the sexes, females having greater parts of their curves before puberty than have males. There exists therefore a risk that young persons who are late-bloomers are prematurely barred from pursuing a study or profession because they appear to lack the ability for it, and this risk is greater for males than for females. On the other hand there is the corresponding risk of early-bloomers being prematurely identified as "gifted" (as one calls it) and subsequently conspicuously lacking eminence as adults, and this risk is greater for females than for males.

Low general ability not only makes it harder to become creative or to function independently in life. Depending on one's further disposition, it also increases the risk of developing serious psychotic disorders (if thus disposed) or criminal behaviour (idem).

Divergent and lateral abilities

To be low in divergent and lateral abilities means to have a mind which is not very associative, and which is rigid, that is, can not well see things in different functions and switch therebetween, can not well switch between motif and background, can not see an object and note at the same time its outline defines an entirely different object (has a double function). It must be greatly stressed that "see" here is not restricted to visual matters but also refers to patterns of any other sensorial, linguistical, or abstract conceptual nature.

For such a person it is hard to "step out of the system", "think out of the box", "jump over one's own shadow". The person can not fully understand self-reference but gets caught in it, and does not see the "extra" in a synergistic system where the whole is more than the sum of parts (sees only the whole or only the parts, but not both). The contrast is not between "wholists" and "reductionists", but between who are only one of those (and are equally impaired) and who are both.

These people too are perceived as "stupid"; this is the third kind of stupidity.


A person barely or not detached from instinct lives under strong influence of ancient mammalian drives. Such a person is highly socialized, conformist, suggestible, sensitive to conditioning, and tends to act or carry out tasks without thinking, once the novelty has worn off (which occurs quickly with this type of person as their orientation reflex weakens rapidly). Although the person may master language, it gives priority to hallucinatorily perceived nonverbal aspects of interaction such as "body language" and nonverbal components of speech, and forms a delusional emotion-oriented mental image of the other's mind state based thereupon. Unaware of this inner process, the person may experience its mental image as originating in clairvoyance or a "sixth sense", and in any case respond in emotion-driven ways rather than rationally.

When receiving verbal information that contradicts its mental image, the person will instantly reject this data as insincere, unable as the person is to let rational verbal communication correct the all-overpowering emotion-based delusion. This form of psychosis is known by names as "empathy", "social intelligence", "emotional intelligence", or "E.Q.", to who understand not its nature. Those affected by it are driven toward reproduction, their heritage to posterity lying in their genes rather than in their work.

Instead of being independent rational thinkers, the instinct-driven conform to dogmas and doctrines planted into them by socialization and suggestion, and react to violations of those beliefs with reflexes acquired through conditioning, never letting truth or ratio get in their way, never using logical arguments. Their behaviour is either emotion-driven or conditioned, thus putting them on par with many sub-human genera.

In their utterances they choose people-pleasing and conformism over truth value. They will rather lie than speak a truth that might hurt someone or contradict dogma or doctrine, and regard the effect of their words the only criterion, the question whether or not those words are true never being a point of consideration. While speaking, their faces and bodies suffer repulsive twitches while their voices undergo howling pitch modulations not dissimilar to those heard in switched-on vacuum cleaners, which - the twitches and modulations - they in their mammalian-psychotic state of mind believe constitute "expression".