Most people view creativity as an asset — until they come across a creative idea. That’s because creativity not only reveals new perspectives; it promotes a sense of uncertainty.
“How is it that people say they want creativity but in reality often reject it?” said Jack Goncalo, assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Cornell University ILR School and the co-author of the research, which will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science.
This bias against creativity compels the rejection of creative ideas even if creativity is a stated goal. “To explain this paradox, we propose that people can hold a bias against creativity that is not necessarily overt, and which is activated when people experience a motivation to reduce uncertainty,” Goncalo and his co-authors write in the study, “The bias against creativity: Why people desire but reject creative ideas.”
“Our findings imply a deep irony,” wrote the authors, who also include Jennifer Mueller of the University of Pennsylvania and Shimul Melwani of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “Revealing the existence and nature of a bias against creativity can help explain why people might reject creative ideas and stifle scientific advancements, even in the face of strong intentions to the contrary.”
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