Openness to Experience
Openness to Experience is a personality trait that refers to an individual’s tendency to embrace new ideas, experiences, and perspectives. It is a crucial aspect of creativity (Kerr and McKay, 2013). If you are interested in learning more about personality traits, I would recommend learning about the five-factor model.
Individuals who possess a high degree of openness to experience are often described as curious and imaginative individuals who are eager to explore new ideas, knowledge, and art forms. They are typically characterized by their adventurous spirit, broad range of interests, and a willingness to embrace new and unconventional ideas. These individuals are often knowledgeable, creative, and open-minded, embracing new experiences with a sense of wonder and excitement.
In contrast, those who score low in openness to experience tend to be more self-constrained, obedient, and adhere to established daily routines and procedures. They may struggle with new or different ideas, feeling more comfortable with familiar and established ways of doing things. This lack of openness can limit their ability to think creatively and explore new avenues of thought.
It’s important to note that openness to experience is a spectrum and that individuals can fall anywhere along this continuum. Some may possess a moderate degree of openness, balancing a healthy curiosity with a comfort in routine and stability. Regardless of where an individual falls on this spectrum, promoting openness to experience in students is a critical component of cultivating a creative learning environment.
Facets of Openness
Openness to Experience encompasses six distinct facets: Openness to Action, Openness to Ideas, Openness to Values, Openness to Aesthetics, Openness to Fantasy and Imagination, and Openness to Feelings (Nekljudova 2019).
Openness to Action: refers to an individual’s willingness to engage in new and exciting experiences, often with a sense of adventure and curiosity.
Openness to Ideas: refers to an individual’s willingness to consider new and unconventional ideas, often embracing them with an open mind and a willingness to learn.
Openness to Values: refers to an individual’s openness to new ways of thinking about the world, often embracing new values and beliefs with a sense of flexibility and adaptability.
Openness to Aesthetics: refers to an individual’s appreciation of beauty, art, and creativity, often seeking out new experiences and perspectives in these areas.
Openness to Fantasy and Imagination: refers to an individual’s ability to imagine and dream, often engaging in flights of fancy and using their imagination to bring new ideas to life.
Openness to Feelings: refers to an individual’s willingness to engage with their own emotions, as well as the emotions of others, often seeking to understand and experience a wide range of emotions.
Together, these facets of openness to experience help to create a rich and diverse tapestry of experiences, thoughts, and emotions. By embracing openness to experience, individuals can cultivate a sense of wonder, imagination, and creativity that will serve them well throughout their lives.
Teaching Openness to Experience
In the classroom, teachers can encourage openness to experience by creating an environment that is conducive to exploration and creativity. This may include providing opportunities for students to experiment, encouraging problem-based learning, and fostering a growth mindset. Additionally, teachers can employ techniques such as mindful listening, reflective exercises, teaching about creative attributes, and teaching students creative problem solving to help students develop their openness to experience.
Openness to Experience Lesson Ideas
Show the video to the class and ask students to share their thoughts and experiences related to openness to new experiences.
- Encourage students to reflect on how they can be more open to new experiences in their daily lives and encourage them to try one new thing each week.
- Discuss the benefits of being open to new experiences, such as increased creativity, adaptability, and fulfillment, and ask students to think about how these benefits can be applied to their own lives.
- Provide opportunities for students to meet and interact with others who are different from themselves, such as through cultural exchange programs, guest speakers, or field trips.
- Encourage students to try new things and to share their experiences with the class, either through oral presentations, writing assignments, or visual projects.
- Create opportunities for students to practice being curious and asking questions, such as through class discussions, debates, or research projects.
- Foster a culture of openness in the classroom by valuing and encouraging diverse perspectives, new ideas, and a willingness to take risks and try new things.
By incorporating these activities, you can help students develop their openness to new experiences, cultivate creativity and adaptability, and foster a growth mindset that will serve them well throughout their lives.
Kerr, B., and McKay, R. (2013). Searching for tomorrow’s innovators: profiling creative adolescents. Creat. Res. J. 25, 21–32. doi: 10.1080/10400419.2013.752180
Nekljudova SV. Six aspects of openness to experience. J Psychol Clin Psychiatry. 2019;10(2):78‒81. DOI: 10.15406/jpcpy.2019.10.00632