Commentary ยท 12/06/2011

Are Creative People More Dishonest?

NPR had an interesting story on a new study yesterday: The Dark side of creativity: Original thinkers can be more dishonest. In the study, creativity is defined as “the ability to produce ideas that are both novel (i.e., original, unexpected) and appropriate (i.e., useful, adaptive to task constraints).” And further explains that “the … two main components underlying creative performance [are] divergent thinking and cognitive flexibility.” From there, the researchers used this premise: “It’s all about telling stories…so creative people are likely to be able to tell themselves better stories, which would allow them to cheat more on the one hand, but not feel worse about it on the other.”

What I found wonderfully ridiculous (the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology won’t let me download the full article so I can share it here) is that of the 97 students who were subjects, their “creativity” was measured according to three scales. Here’s one of them:

The Gough Scale:
Gough Scale
(Take a look at the grading scale on the 2nd page)

Some things I continue ponder, even though I think the study is flawed because of its vague definitions of creativity and the leap it takes between college students cheating while filling in bubbles on a scantron and Enron:
What’s the connection between fiction and dishonesty?
Is writing fiction and calling it fiction a way of being honestly dishonest?
Is there any connection between honesty and fiction?