The Bias Against Creativity

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Corporate creativity is a hot topic, and innovation determines whether a company lives or dies. So why do people reject creative ideas?

Jennifer Mueller, Shimul Melwani, and Jack Goncalo have a theory. In their new paper, The Bias Against Creativity: Why People Desire But Reject Creative Ideas, they explore the idea of covert biases, and they find that uncertainty produces a subconscious hostility towards creativity.

To quote the authors, “Because there is such a strong social norm to endorse creativity and people also feel authentic positive attitudes towards creativity, people may be reluctant to admit that they do not want creativity.” The authors conclude that “we cannot assume that organizations, institutions or even scientific endeavors will desire and recognize creative ideas even when they explicitly state they want them. This is because [organizations] may [extol creativity] in ways that promote uncertainty by requiring gate-keepers to identify the single ‘best’ and most ‘accurate’ idea, thereby creating an unacknowledged aversion to creativity. In addition, our results suggest that… the field of creativity may need to shift its current focus from identifying how to generate more creative ideas to identifying how to help innovative institutions recognize and accept creativity.”

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