The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
"The common saying that 'rules are meant to be broken' is at the root of both creative performance and dishonest behavior," says lead researcher Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School. "Both creativity and dishonesty, in fact, involve rule breaking."
To examine the link between dishonesty and creativity, Gino and colleague Scott Wiltermuth of the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California designed a series of experiments that allowed, and even sometimes encouraged, people to cheat.
In the first experiment, for example, participants were presented with a series of number matrices and were tasked with finding two numbers that added up to 10 in each matrix. They were told they would be compensated based on the number of matrices they had been able to solve and were asked to self-report the number they got correct. This setup allowed participants to inflate their own performance — what they didn't know was that the researchers were able to track their actual performance.
In a subsequent and supposedly unrelated task, the participants were presented with sets of three words (e.g., sore, shoulder, sweat) and were asked to come up with a fourth word (e.g., cold) that was related to each word in the set. The task, which taps a person's ability to identify words that are so-called "remote associates," is commonly used to measure creative thinking.
Gino and Wiltermuth found that almost 59% of the participants cheated by inflating their performance on the matrices in the experiment.
And cheating on the matrices seemed to be associated with a boost to creative thinking — cheaters figured out more of the remote associates than those who didn't cheat.
Subsequent experiments provided further evidence for a link between dishonesty and creativity, revealing that participants showed higher levels of creative thinking according to various measures after they had been induced to cheat on an earlier task.
Additional data suggest that cheating may encourage subsequent creativity by priming participants to be less constrained by rules.
Previous work has focused on the factors that might lead to unethical behavior. In earlier research, Gino had found that encouraging out-of-the-box thinking can lead people toward more dishonest decisions when confronted with an ethical dilemma.
This research, however, focuses on the consequences of dishonesty:
"We turned the relationship upside down, in a sense," says Gino. "Our research raises the possibility that one of the reasons why dishonesty seems so widespread in today's society is that by acting dishonestly we become more creative — and this creativity may allow us to come up with original justifications for our immoral behavior and make us likely to keep crossing ethical boundaries."
Gino and Wiltermuth are following up on these findings by investigating how people respond when dishonesty and creativity are combined in the form of "creative" cheating. Their initial findings suggest that people may give cheaters a pass if they cheat in particularly creative ways.
For more information about this study, please contact: Francesca Gino at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The article abstract can be found online: http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/02/18/0956797614520714.abstract
The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. For a copy of the article "Evil Genius? How Dishonesty Can Lead to Greater Creativity" and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Anna Mikulak at 202-293-9300 or email@example.com.
Anna Mikulak | EurekAlert!
Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg
Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.
So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
28.10.2016 | Life Sciences