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Creative people are more likely to cheat

Heather Rudow November 30, 2011

(Photo:Flickr/Poitin Jimmie)

Having a creative friend or partner might spice things up in your life, but that unique worldview might be the very reason they are more likely to deceive you, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

A Duke University study using a series of tests gauging participants’ creativity, intelligence and willingness to cheat if given the opportunity discovered that creative people are able to rationalize excuses for their lies and cheating to justify their behavior much easier than non-creative types.

The researchers found that the creative participants were significantly more likely to cheat. There was no link found between intelligence and dishonesty.

“Greater creativity helps individuals solve difficult tasks across many domains, but creative sparks may lead individuals to take unethical routes when searching for solutions to problems and tasks,” said lead researcher Francesca Gino.

According to the study authors, “Dishonesty and innovation are two of the topics most widely written about in the popular press, yet, to date, the relationship between creativity and dishonest behavior has not been studied empirically. … The results from the current article indicate that, in fact, people who are creative or work in environments that promote creative thinking may be the most at risk when they face ethical dilemmas.”

A previously released study found that creative types a typically more self-absorbed, suggesting that there is truth behind the “insufferable artist” stereotype.

Source: American Psychological Association

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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