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How creativity makes feel dishonest (sense of entitlement)

Think you are special because you are creative?

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Believing you are a creative person can create feelings of entitlement, especially when you believe that being creative is rare and valuable, finds a new study.

That feeling of entitlement can be costly for you and your organisation, as it can cause you to be dishonest.

This is per new research by Lynne Vincent, an assistant professor of management at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, and Maryam Kouchaki, an assistant professor of management and organisations at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

With many organisations finding ways to encourage their employees to be creative, there can be a cost of creativity when it is seen as a rare and unique attribute, based on laboratory experiments, and a study of employee and supervisor pairs.

While creativity is generally valued, as much as other positive attributes like practicality and intelligence, the research found it may be over-valued compared to other positive attributes because creativity is seen as rare.

That sense of rarity leads people to see their creative efforts as special and valuable, making them feel they deserve extra rewards for their creative efforts.

That entitlement can cause them to steal in order to get the rewards that they think they deserve.

ALSO READ: Can you pay your employees to be creative?

Researcher Vincent noted that, on the flipside, when individuals believed that creativity was common, that sense of entitlement and the dishonest acts were reduced.

This was exhibited in the laboratory experiments where people who believed their creativity was rare, they were more likely to lie for money.

However, when they believed being practical was rare, the increased sense of entitlement and dishonesty did not occur.

The effect was seen in organisations too, where those workgroups who viewed creativity as rare, were rated as engaging in more unethical behaviours by their supervisors.

Despite the importance of creativity in the business world, the dark side of creativity has not been fully studied, stated the report.

“Encouraging creativity in organisations is not as simple as telling employees to be creative. Defining what it means to be creative and what creativity means in that context is important.”

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