You’re creative? You’re a scoundrel!

Why would a dishonest person honestly report their dishonest behavior in an anonymous survey? Would a creative person label himself as a chronic paper clip thief to mess with such a survey? “Why, yes, I am the person that steals everyones pens!” Such are the questions that come up in a new report that links creativity to unethical behavior.

It requires some creativity to come up with the question of are creative people more dishonest, so are not the psychologists that did the study proved to be dishonest by their own study and not to be believed?

My problem with this study is the way it’s focused on those that are obviously creative (people working at an ad agency). The real problem, perhaps, is people that test high for creativity but have jobs that don’t on the surface require creativity, like accountants and bankers. Unfortunately when you say ‘people that are creative’ most of us think of artists, photographers, designers, etc. But the truth is that genius goes hand in hand with creativity regardless of what your field is… psychologists, scientists, cooking, banking, whatever. The ability to look at a problem in a novel way is important for the advancement of almost anything and requires creativity. Some of the most creative people I know are computer programmers… not a profession usually associated with creativity.

The study does a disservice to creativity, by not looking at other traits such as confidence to see if there are traits that have a higher correlation with dishonesty. It may be true that to be a mastermind of evil it helps to be creative. But to announce to the world that creative people are dishonest because of an anonymous survey and co-eds counting dots seems to me to be a ‘creative’ hypothesis.