Article | Journal of Personality and Social Psychology | March 2012

The Dark Side of Creativity: Original Thinkers Can Be More Dishonest

by F. Gino and D. Ariely


Creativity is a common aspiration for individuals, organizations, and societies. Here, however, we test whether creativity increases dishonesty. We propose that a creative personality and a creative mindset promote individuals' ability to justify their behavior, which, in turn, leads to unethical behavior. In 5 studies, we show that participants with creative personalities tended to cheat more than less creative individuals and that dispositional creativity is a better predictor of unethical behavior than intelligence (Experiment 1). In addition, we find that participants who were primed to think creatively were more likely to behave dishonestly than those in a control condition (Experiment 2) and that greater ability to justify their dishonest behavior explained the link between creativity and increased dishonesty (Experiments 3 and 4). Finally, we demonstrate that dispositional creativity moderates the influence of temporarily priming creativity on dishonest behavior (Experiment 5). The results provide evidence for an association between creativity and dishonesty, thus highlighting a dark side of creativity.

Keywords: Creativity; Ethics;


Gino, F., and D. Ariely. "The Dark Side of Creativity: Original Thinkers Can Be More Dishonest." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 102, no. 3 (March 2012): 445–459.