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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How Creativity Connects with Immorality | Travis Riddle, Scientific American

Launching his article by describing the creative genius of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, Travis Riddle reports on a recent paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. In that paper, researchers at Harvard and Duke universities prove, supposedly, that "creativity can lead people to behave unethically."

Riddle writes:
In five studies, the authors show that creative individuals are more likely to be dishonest, and that individuals induced to think creatively were more likely to be dishonest. Importantly, they showed that this effect is not explained by any tendency for creative people to be more intelligent, but rather that creativity leads people to more easily come up with justifications for their unscrupulous actions.
Yikes! Thought I'm no Steve Jobs, I think of myself as creative. But I also think of myself as ethical. So what gives!?

Unfortunately, the article reports only on the researchers' work and finding. They tried conducting some tests to balance their findings of unethical behavior, without much luck. And Riddle's article doesn't provide any "second opinions.'

So, in his conclusion, Riddle writes:
These studies demonstrate that there is indeed a dark side to creativity. Perhaps, given this information, it should come as no surprise that the best and brightest in many fields are frequently caught in all manner of immoral transgressions. Steve Jobs was an iconic and creative CEO, but he was also a human, and subject to the same principles of behavior as anyone else, including these downsides to his explosive creativity. 
For now, I'll ponder the rationale that we're all human, creative or not!
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