The Dark Side to Creativity: Testing an Intervention to Deter Deviance

Open Access
Gutworth, Melissa Beth
Graduate Program:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
July 18, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Samuel Todd Hunter, Thesis Advisor
  • creativity
  • deviance
  • intervention
  • ethics
  • saliency
Although creativity is commonly thought to be beneficial for businesses trying to maintain a competitive edge, a relationship has been found between creativity and deviance. Cognitive processes have been believed to be the connection between creativity and deviance, as creative people often possess the ability to think “outside of the box” and view situations differently than those who are less creative. Despite creative people having flexible thinking, however, not all engage in deviance. We sought to explore possible situational factors that may predict deviance in creative people and test an intervention aimed at deterring deviance. Results show that ambiguous ethical situations, where rules are unclear, provide more of an opportunity for creative people to engage in deviance. In ethically salient conditions, where rules are reinforced, deviance is reduced as creativity increases. Further, aspects of creativity seem to be unaffected or even slightly enhanced by ethically salient conditions. By implementing ethical saliency interventions, it may be possible to deter deviance while still allowing for creative expression.