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Creative people are more likely to cheat

Creativity and Innovation

People usually associate creativity with positive things, like producing beautiful art, scientific breakthroughs or successful new innovations.

But creativity might also have a dark side.

Research from 2012 suggests that people with higher creativity were more likely to be dishonest than less creative people.

This was based on a number of different experiments:

  • Workers in an advertising agency who reported their own job required high levels of creativity, and their managers also considered creative, were more likely to align themselves with survey questions indicating dishonesty (like stealing office supplies)
  • Study participants with higher creativity scores were more likely to cheat in a series of tests to earn more money (while participants with high intelligence were no more likely to cheat)
  • Study participants who were primed to think creatively also were then more likely to behave dishonestly

Further experiments then tried to find out why creative people may be more willing to be dishonest.

The reason found was that more creative people are better able to justify their unethical behaviour.

They may be better able to come up with original justifications to themselves why it was OK to behave in a dishonest way, or at least were more confident in their ability to justify it if they were to be caught.

In a previous podcast episode, we heard about research into malevolent creativity. Now, there is more evidence that not all creativity is positive.

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