Creative People May Be More Dishonest

Being creative isn’t all that good for you. At least when it comes to your character.

According to a study by Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely of Duke University, creativity fuels dishonesty and dishonesty triggers creativity. “It may be a cycle that reinforces itself,” says Gino in a feature with the San Francisco Chronicle. “You could have a situation in which creativity initially pushes you across the line and then dishonesty heightens creativity, which might make it easier to cheat again. It’s a downward spiral.”

Researchers evaluated 99 people across 17 departments at an unnamed U.S. advertising agency in the South. The employees were asked ethical questions such as stealing office supplies to inflating business expense reports. The were also rated with a level of creativity depending on their specific job and compared with how ethical they were.

The more creativity required on the job led to more unethical behavior. This seems to make sense. As Gino herself deemed, the more creative you are, the more likely you can find reasons why your behavior is not as bad and can justify your actions. The more creative you are, the higher chance you can try to find simple and creative excuses without compromising your own self-regard. It’s an interesting study. I consider myself to be very creative and I can see myself being more dishonest than some people (I’m not perfect). For example, one of my closest friends doesn’t have the slightest bit of creativity (he will even admit it) but he is never dishonest about anything.


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