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How Creativity Connects with Immorality Are creative types more likely to cross moral boundaries?
posted by infini (40 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Or... likely to cross moral boundaries in more creative ways?
posted by Yakuman at 9:36 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or... have different moral boundaries than non-creative types?
posted by davejay at 9:37 AM on April 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


How Creativity Connects with Immorality?

Google Drive?
posted by Fizz at 9:37 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whose moral boundaries? Is there some book that dropped out of the clouds listing all of the boundaries?
posted by spicynuts at 9:38 AM on April 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I like how the photo next to the article is a woman painting her own face but the examples cited of creative people are, of course, Steve Jobs and employees at an advertising firm.
posted by postcommunism at 9:46 AM on April 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


Is there some book that dropped out of the clouds listing all of the boundaries?

Yes but unfortunately most of it burned up on re-entry and all we have left is the clause 'unless you don't really mean it.'
posted by shakespeherian at 9:48 AM on April 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Are creative types more likely to cross moral boundaries?

I know mom sure is!
posted by No Robots at 9:49 AM on April 25, 2012


Heh. Check the url: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-creativity-connects-immortality. Now, that's a better topic!
posted by No Robots at 9:51 AM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


The paper the article references is free here - it's a worthwhile question, I think, whether cheating on a totally abitrary test involving dots on a screen demonstrates an increased propensity to harm real people in the real world. Maybe the creativity just causes you to realize "these red dots have no meaning, I might as well maximize my ROI"
posted by crayz at 9:51 AM on April 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Let's read the article:

In one study, the authors administered a survey to employees at an advertising agency.

Oh, well, there's one problem.

In the case of the heads of financial firms and their exploitation of mortgage-backed securities, the tendency to hire creative individuals and promote creativity within organizations may be good for business, even as it is remarkably bad for the rest of us.

That's quite a conclusion, and is based on quite an assumption.

The article also says some people were "primed for creativity" as part of a test. How do you even do that? And how is being "primed for creativity" the same as actually being a creative person?

Then again, I'm not sure a lot of creative types would really care if they were being universally pegged as immoral.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:53 AM on April 25, 2012


In one study, the authors administered a survey to employees at an advertising agency. The survey asked the employees how likely they were to engage in various kinds of unethical behaviors, such as taking office supplies home or inflating business expense reports. The employees were also asked to report how much creativity was required for their job. Further, the authors asked the executives of the company to provide creativity ratings for each department within the company.

Those who said that their jobs required more creativity also tended to self-report a greater likelihood of unethical behavior. And if the executives said that a particular department required more creativity, the individuals in that department tended to report greater likelihoods of unethical behavior.
That seems like a completely idiotic study design and I can't believe it would be published. I mean, you're looking at people who work in an industry believed by many to be intrinsically unethical. So natrually creative people who have fewer ethical issues would be drawn to it.

What about, for example looking at people who work children's books or something. Or video games, or other industries that don't require dishonesty in order succeed.

The other thing, though is that I wonder if they asked people if they engaged in activities that they found unethical. Creative people might be more likely to "get creative" with the rules and try to figure out what's right and what's wrong on their own, rather then follow regulations.
Following the creativity prime, participants were asked to roll a die out of view of the experimenter. They were told that for their payment, they would earn, in dollars, whatever number they reported the die was. For example, if the die showed a three, they would earn three dollars. This measure provides a clever gauge of cheating, as the average of a number of die rolls should be 3.5. Averages much different from that would mean, in this context, that people were lying about what number showed up in order to receive a bigger payment.
Yeah, well, MAYBE CREATIVE PEOPLE ARE JUST LUCKIER, YOU THINK ABOUT THAT, MR. SCIENCE GUY? HUH?
posted by delmoi at 9:56 AM on April 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


I like how the photo next to the article is a woman painting her own face ...

Article would have worked better for me if the photo was left unattributed. Or, better, retained "iStockphoto" watermarked across it like they used an upaid comp.
posted by hal9k at 9:57 AM on April 25, 2012


Yeah, following up on delmoi's comment, I couldn't help but feel like either the original studies or the research for this article were really not rigorous enough to say basically anything.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 10:00 AM on April 25, 2012


Maybe dishonest people prefer to characterize themselves as creative; obviously, they wouldn't mind lying about that too. This would explain the result of study 1, where people who were dishonest in the second task tended to choose answers that identified themselves as creative in the first task.
posted by jepler at 10:02 AM on April 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Didn't Friedrich Nietzsche come up with a pretty unequivocal response to this, a little over a hundred years ago?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:10 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I initially missread immorality as immortality, expected an awful lot of discussion about whether humans are simply the sum of our memes and great authors survive their death in some small way.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:10 AM on April 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


>And how is being "primed for creativity" the same as actually being a creative person?

The test might be demonstrating how creativity is popularly associated with immorality (and immortality, for that matter), and that the people so primed are actually aping the values or social stance commonly assigned to "creative" people. Which would be interesting in and of itself, not least because the sort of immorality usually associated with creativity is often more animalistic (sex or violence) than broadly social (say, underhanded business practices).


On preview: Didn't Friedrich Nietzsche come up with a pretty unequivocal response to this, a little over a hundred years ago?

How so?
posted by postcommunism at 10:13 AM on April 25, 2012


You want an omelet, you gotta break a few eggs.
posted by R. Mutt at 10:18 AM on April 25, 2012


Creative types can at least create better excuses!

Of course, creative/smart people have always been excused far more than us plebes would be. See: Polanski, von Braun, Pound.
posted by kmz at 10:19 AM on April 25, 2012


Nietzche says yes.
posted by deathpanels at 10:20 AM on April 25, 2012


It is immoral that this article did not begin with the third paragraph.
posted by rahnefan at 10:21 AM on April 25, 2012


Nietzche says yes.

Not only "yes," but in fact, that one should.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:23 AM on April 25, 2012


Nietzche says put your hands up over your head and dance to the music that only you can hear.
posted by infini at 10:28 AM on April 25, 2012


So Steve Jobs "creativity" meant Apple were able to employ people at Foxconn and make a killing?
posted by marienbad at 10:29 AM on April 25, 2012


So they did their little experiment in an advertising agency.

Having worked in one, I know that jobs in such a company are progressively harder, and worse compensated, the more creative the job is. Therefore, respect for the workplace decreases the more creative the job is, and that's not because of the creativity, but because the creative people need to deal with shitty clients, deadlines and overtime in a fashion that the accounting people, the IT people and the janitors do not.
posted by svenni at 10:31 AM on April 25, 2012


Is this "Nietzche" related to Friedrich Nietzsche?
posted by Slothrup at 10:35 AM on April 25, 2012


"Do you like Phil Collins?"- Friedrich Nietzsche.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:50 AM on April 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Perhaps creative types do more things that are unconventional and threaten the status quo, like daring to look at a planet's moons with a telescope.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:02 AM on April 25, 2012


Didn't Friedrich Nietzsche come up with a pretty unequivocal response to this, a little over a hundred years ago?

He may well have done.

Too bad the fact that he did is apparently so much better known than what that response actually was.
posted by jamjam at 11:10 AM on April 25, 2012


According to Batman comic books and James Bond movies you gotta watch out for free thinkers. They think the rules don't apply to them.

What if everybody did that?
posted by bukvich at 11:10 AM on April 25, 2012


This sounds like a way for people to use being 'artistic' as an excuse to act like assholes.
posted by jonmc at 11:11 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are creative types more likely to cross moral boundaries?

God is, by His own admission, responsible for several genocides.

So there's that.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:24 AM on April 25, 2012


Is this "Nietzche" related to Friedrich Nietzsche?
posted by Slothrup at 10:35 AM on April 25 [+] [!]


They meant Ray Nitschke.
posted by Snyder at 11:30 AM on April 25, 2012


> Following the creativity prime, participants were asked to roll a die out of view of the experimenter. They were told
> that for their payment, they would earn, in dollars, whatever number they reported the die was. For example, if the die
> showed a three, they would earn three dollars. This measure provides a clever gauge of cheating, as the average of a
> number of die rolls should be 3.5. Averages much different from that would mean, in this context, that people were
> lying about what number showed up in order to receive a bigger payment.

I rolled with my D20. They didn't say I couldn't.
posted by jfuller at 11:51 AM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Further proof that SciAm has turned into Psychology Today.

R.I.P., Martin Gardner.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:29 PM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Outcome-orientation vs process-orientation is more important in this context, I think. The outcome-oriented thinker sees the process and asks how the process can be made to generate the desired outcome (and the quality of answers to that question vary with the level of creativity they have access to). The process-oriented thinker is primarily concerned with whether the inputs can be verified, and having allayed that concern gives the verified inputs to the process, then accepts whatever outcome arises as if it were correct.

Typically, the process-oriented thinkers are not personally affected by the outcome, and are not trusted with discretion, nor do they trust themselves with discretion. The bureaucrat (public service or private enterprise) is the stereotypical process-oriented thinker. To a process-oriented thinker, the outcome-oriented thinker is a cheater, dishonest and manipulative, presenting whatever data to the process will best serve themselves, heedless of the whole truth. To an outcome-oriented thinker, the process-oriented thinker is a fool, completely obsessed with detailed rules of little importance, and utterly oblivious to the only thing that matters: the end result. Both think they have a monopoly on justice, and see the other as the enemy of it.

Whenever we must deal with other people (which is all the damn time, they are everywhere) one of the most important steps we can take in our process, for achieving an optimal outcome, is to establish whether they are process-oriented or outcome-oriented; and show ourselves to be similar. Because we are. The truth is that we are both, depending on whether the process is pointed at us, or by us. The process-oriented thinker, to be happy, must believe that they have, or at least have access to, all of the relevant information. The outcome-oriented thinker wants only the relevant information. Prepare for both, if you can.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:09 PM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Following the creativity prime, participants were asked to roll a die out of view of the experimenter. They were told that for their payment, they would earn, in dollars, whatever number they reported the die was. For example, if the die showed a three, they would earn three dollars. This measure provides a clever gauge of cheating, as the average of a number of die rolls should be 3.5. Averages much different from that would mean, in this context, that people were lying about what number showed up in order to receive a bigger payment.

Seems a bit of an assumption that lying is always immoral.
posted by juv3nal at 6:07 PM on April 25, 2012


Wow, that's a crap study.

If you start from the assumption that people are all roughly likely to do stuff like steal office supplies, then what you've learned is that "creatives" are more likely to tell you the truth about it. Which is the opposite of what they report.

Because instead, this study starts from believing the self-reports.

Bad science.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 8:35 PM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


The process-oriented thinker, to be happy, must believe that they have, or at least have access to, all of the relevant information. The outcome-oriented thinker wants only the relevant information. Prepare for both, if you can.

This is the only part of your observation where I have some nits to pick. If one where truly thinking from the point of view of the best outcome, then all the relevant information would be necessary to take into consideration. In fact I tend to find that it is the reverse...process only wants that information that fits within the confines of the process, whereas outcome requires a bigger perspective.
posted by infini at 10:21 PM on April 25, 2012


I thought this was about immortality at first and got excited. Oh well, guess I'll have to SHOW YOU ALL some other way.
posted by speicus at 12:34 AM on April 26, 2012


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