Have you ever pondered how people become creative? Do you wonder whether the debate about nature vs nurture applies to creativity?
The University of Southern California conducted an experiment, designed to examine the connection between people’s honesty and their creativity. And there is one. I will not bore you with the details of the research, but the conclusion was that dishonesty is closely linked to creativity: people who are prone to cheating are also the more creative ones. Not only that, the experiment showed that it is a question of sheer quantity: the more the cheating, the more creative people are!
After a number of tests, the researchers concluded that creativity and dishonesty require a flexible attitude to rules; cheats, according to the article, are less constrained to obey signs and rules which makes them more creative.
Now, if you wonder whether you need to become a thief or an embezzler to increase your creative strike, don’t worry, it won’t come to that. The divergence from the rule of law does not need to be extreme (although this probably explains some of the prison stories and breakouts I’ve read about). Simple things such as disobeying ‘no parking’ or ‘no cycling’ signs qualify as cheating in this context.
I personally think that the experiment makes sense. If anything, I think this research benefits me: I tend to ignore rules that make no sense to me, and frequently bend rules that seem outplaced or outdated. Don’t get me wrong: I’m generally law-abiding but when I see something that is out of my personal common sense, I will ignore it. This includes, from time to time, ridiculous speed limits or ‘do not park’ signs if there is nowhere else to park. But that’s as far as I’ll go.
So, next time you ignore a ‘stop’ sign, congratulate yourself on being creative and embrace your cheating side. And if you get stopped by the police for the said offence, try to convince them that it’s your creative side that is talking. I would like to see their reaction!
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Having been surrounded by utterly dishonest people for the past six years. I don’t appreciate my creativity being compared to any sort of lack in integrity. Sure there are creative cheats, just as there are polite serial killers.
Ouch, sounds like you’ve had one bad experience too many. I’m sorry to hear that! 🙁
I am a stickler for rules.
Ah, but you write non-fiction, don’t you? 😀
Yes I do. But give me a piece of fabric and I can create most anything.
True dat – I’ve seen your handiwork! 🙂
A day late but got there in the end! Here’s the link. You can see why your post resonated so much with me 🙂 Thanks again Nicholas. https://sherrimatthewsblog.com/2014/10/10/a-sign-of-things-to-come/
That entire post could have been written by me. We have a climbing passion fruit that I’m, well, passionate about, and I hate it when the gardener prunes it for the winter.
As for your run-in with the law, I think there’s a secondary moral there, too: don’t break the law in front of your kids. They’ll scream it from the rooftops! 😀
Oh I can relate to that…but even better for the following spring 🙂
Haha…yes, I think that is absolutely right, nothing is sacred is it? Of course, they never seen to remember the good things, lol 😉
Or, don’t touch the wet paint? Lol. 🙂
Especially slow-moving one; that’s the worst! 😀
It is that we have the ability to think outside of the box.
Thanks and welcome. Check your mailbox for a small thank-you gift for leaving a comment 🙂
And that last comment was posted via my Twitter account, for some reason! Technology…
Another great post!
This definitely makes sense to me. I think most of us who write do so, at least in part, because there are some basic things about our society or condition that we question. The fact that we question indicates that we tend to find many things outside of our common sense, as you put it.
For me, it tends to be religious law. I’m great with the broad strokes, but when I see little arbitrary rules that don’t pass my personal “sniff test”, I feel free to ignore them. 🙂
You raise an interesting point. I developed the creativity theory as part of my thesis, which I should really blog about some day. It goes like this:
Everyday experience enters our subconscious, sinks into our unconscious, is “metabolized” by humanity’s archetypes, then reemerges into consciousness through our dreams. For creatives, there is an extra step, in which they are then shared through our stories, paintings, statues etc.
So yes, I agree that there is some sort of internal pressure that leads us to share with the world.
As for the “sniff test,” I’m glad to see your bullsh!t meter is working well. All people have great bullsh!t meters, but are taught to ignore them. However, they do so at their own peril! 🙂
Interesting, Though I really hate to think that my favorite authors, painters, and sculptors are cheaters.
Well… cheaters may be a bit too strong a word. Let’s settle for “they liked to bend the rules” 🙂
That is much better.
Yay. If rebellion is a good indicator then I can stop questioning my creativity. What a relief.
But hang on, I suddenly feel a need to break this rule and become a nun.
A rebellious nun, perhaps? 😀
I don’t know. I’m totally honest . . . or am I? 😀 I do see the rule bending and twisting being a sign of creativity. I always questioned why things were done a certain way while pointing out another route. This really isn’t a good idea if one has a stubborn, not that creative boss. Turns into you speaking another language and a coworker has to step in as translator.
Are you me?? I could have made that comment… 😀
How do you know you didn’t? 😉
Wow dude… Mind… blown… 😀
Surely the word ‘cheat’ has all sorts of nasty connotations. Personally, I’d call this being a natural rebel.
Natural rebels poke fun at the rules (especially when the rules are pompous). A natural rebel does things like eyebombing, leaving cards advertising their books in books by competing authors in the library and in book shops. A natural rebel might go a little bit over the speed limit on a straight road where you can see for miles… but these things, while, technically, being stuff that is naughty, are are not done with intent to hurt.
However, daubing graffiti (crappy tags in felt tip I mean, not the art stuff) stealing your competing authors’ books from the shop to sell on Amazon market place and replacing them with your own or barrelling past a school at 60mph just as all the kids are leaving… that’s more a case of being a shit.
I think the first scenario is what they mean but the latter one is what the word ‘cheat’ conjures up. 😉
Interesting theory though and there’s probably some truth in it. I’m sure creativity, in a lot of cases, springs from not quite fitting in. Which kind of ties in with an alternative view of the smaller rules that bind us.
Fair enough. I’m quite sure they mean the former, rather than the latter.
BTW, you’re not allowed within a mile of my books anymore, especially if you “happen” to have any promo material on you! 😀
Mwah hahaharhgh! Be afraid… actually no, don’t. I only do it in huge blockbuster authors books people like Pratchett, Adams and Fforde because those are the ones my books are usually compared to.
Ah. Nice save. For a moment there, I thought you implied that my books are not good enough for your hijacking activities! *sulking in corner, mumbling to self*
Never let it be said!
This explains a lot! As coincidence would have it, I’m writing about my stop-sign’ experience in my post due out later today. May I link to this? Thanks Nicholas 🙂
Lol – talk about synchronicity! 😀
No need to ask, I love it when people link to my posts or reblog them! 🙂
Thanks Nicholas – catch up with you later 🙂
An interesting theory, and as you say with a hint if truth to it. Given that I was brought up at a time when rules were meant to be obeyed…I am still a bit of a stickler for that, but on the other hand, like you when I see rules and regs that simply don’t equate to common sense, I definitely ignore or bend a little;)
See? I welcome a fellow creative rebel. 😀
I’m sorry, I’m still laughing with your story… 😀