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The Dark Side of Creativity: Original Thinkers Can be More Dishonest

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Author Info

  • Francesca Gino

    ()
    (Harvard Business School, Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit)

  • Dan Ariely

    ()
    (Fuqua School of Business, Duke University)

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    Abstract

    Creativity is a common aspiration for individuals, organizations, and societies. Here, however, we test whether creativity increases dishonesty. We propose that a creative personality and creativity primes promote individuals' motivation to think outside the box and that this increased motivation leads to unethical behavior. In four studies, we show that participants with creative personalities who scored high on a test measuring divergent thinking tended to cheat more (Study 1); that dispositional creativity is a better predictor of unethical behavior than intelligence (Study 2); and that participants who were primed to think creatively were more likely to behave dishonestly because of their creativity motivation (Study 3) and greater ability to justify their dishonest behavior (Study 4). Finally, a field study constructively replicates these effects and demonstrates that individuals who work in more creative positions are also more morally flexible (Study 5). The results provide evidence for an association between creativity and dishonesty, thus highlighting a dark side of creativity.

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    File URL: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/11-064.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Harvard Business School in its series Harvard Business School Working Papers with number 11-064.

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    Length: 47 pages
    Date of creation: Jan 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:11-064

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    Related research

    Keywords: creativity; creative thinking; dishonesty; intelligence; unethical behavior;

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

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