The Gray Side of Creativity: Exploring the Role of Activation in the Link Between Creative Personality and Unethical Behavior

Ke Michael Mai, Aleksander P.J. Ellis, David T. Welsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although creative personality is generally viewed as a desirable characteristic (e.g., Amabile, 1988), there may be a dark side associated with creative thinking in terms of increasing unethical behavior (e.g., Gino & Ariely, 2012). By integrating trait activation theory (. Tett & Burnett, 2003) and self-concept maintenance theory (. Mazar, Amir, & Ariely, 2008), we expand current understanding of the relationship between creative personality and unethical behavior. More specifically, consistent results across three studies using both student and nonstudent samples suggest that the effects of creative personality on unethical behavior are determined in large part by the presence of activators and are mediated by the development of unethical justifications. Implications for the creativity and behavioral ethics literatures are discussed as well as directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-85
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume60
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

Keywords

  • Behavioral ethics
  • Creative personality
  • Self-concept maintenance
  • Trait activation
  • Unethical behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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