Creating honesty

Everybody wants to be creative. Have more than two minutes of discussion with almost anyone at a party and you will find that they want to be doing something “more creative”. Being creative is universally regarded as a good thing; “creative” is synonymous with desirable, there is no downside to it. Now however, researchers have discovered a darker side to those much-vaunted creative types.

In the new study the researchers first established the creativity and intelligence of their subjects using an array of tests. The subjects then took part in a series of five experiments and were paid just for turning up. In all cases, in one way or another, the subjects were offered more money if they somehow cheated in the experiment.

For example, in one experiment the subjects were given sheets with general knowledge questions and asked to circle the answers then transfer their answers onto another multiple choice sheet. The subjects were then told that there had been a mistake and that the second sheet showed faint marks on the correct answers. Subjects were paid for each correct answer, and so they had the opportunity to cheat and earn themselves more money.

The other experiments offered similar opportunities for cheating and making more money.

Matching the results against the personality findings revealed that people who think creatively are more likely to cheat. Creativity was also a better predictor of honesty than intelligence.

It might be that creative people are more disposed to cheating because they are better able to invent excuses to explain their actions. It could also be that creative types are accustomed to being in environments that expose them to flexible thinking and so are most “at risk” of considering and choosing dishonest pathways when they face ethical dilemmas.

So next time you are at a party and someone reveals their burning creativity which only seeks for a worthy outlet, you might just want to check your wallet is still in place.

The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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