Uh-oh: Study warns creative people more likely to be dishonest
A study has found that believing you are a creative person can create feelings of entitlement when you think that creativity is rare and valuable.Updated: Sep 29, 2015 15:26 IST
Do you think you are special because you are creative? Well, this sense of entitlement can have some unpleasant side-effects, such as turning you into a liar and making you steal at the workplace, says a new study.
The study found that believing you are a creative person can create feelings of entitlement when you think that creativity is rare and valuable.
That feeling of entitlement can be costly for you and your organisation as it can cause you to be dishonest.
While creativity is generally valued, such as other positive attributes, including practicality or intelligence, it may be over-valued compared to those other positive attributes because creativity is by definition rare.
“That sense of rarity then creates a sense of entitlement. People see their creative efforts as special and valuable and feel that they deserve extra rewards for their creative efforts,” said co-researcher Lynne Vincent, an assistant professor of management at Syracuse University.
“That entitlement can cause them to steal in order to get the rewards that they think they deserve,” Vincent explained.
According to researchers, the key to the relationship between creativity and dishonesty is the sense of rarity.
“When individuals identified themselves as creative and believed that creativity was rare, entitlement emerged,” said co-researcher Maryam Kouchaki from Northwestern University.
“However, if individuals believed that creativity was common, that sense of entitlement and the dishonest acts were reduced.”
When people in the laboratory experiments believed that their creativity was rare compared to common, they were more likely to lie for money.
However, when people believed that being practical was rare compared to common, the increased sense of psychological entitlement and dishonesty did not occur.
In organisations in which creativity was viewed as rare in work groups, employees who identified themselves as creative were rated as engaging in more unethical behaviours by their supervisors.
The study is scheduled to be published in the Academy of Management Journal.