On Creativity, Intelligence, and Dishonesty

This week’s book learning is part of an 8 part series from The Honest Truth About Dishonesty by Dan Ariely. (Parts 12, 3)

We ended last week’s learning with the big question – what is the relationship between creativity and dishonesty? So, Dan Ariely and team tested this with a set of interesting experiments over 4 weeks. Participants’ creativity and intelligence were first tested with 3 activities spread over 3 weeks.

In the first week, participants took a survey to test creativity and measure intelligence. In the second and third weeks, they were tested on their verbal skills, problem solving skills, and general knowledge.

They were then brought together for a multiple choice general knowledge test with a twist. When they were about to finish, the examiner said there had been a mistake with the “bubble” sheets. The only bubble sheets available were the ones with the correct answer shaded. So, would they please use this, erase the right answer, and copy in their answers?

This meant they saw the right answer as they tallied their scores. They would then have to shred the bubble sheets and tell the examiner how many they solved.

The results revealed a lot –
– Individuals who were more creative had higher levels of dishonesty
– There was no relationship between intelligence and dishonesty
– Science has gone on to find a link between gray matter (neurons) and white matter (links between neurons). More gray matter =>more intelligence. The hypothesis is that that more white matter could mean more creativity.
– Creativity, in turn, allows us to stretch the “fudge” factor and tell ourselves stories to rationalize it.


Sketch by EB

“I knew all along the capital of Switzerland was Berne. I chose Zurich without thinking about it” was probably what the participants were thinking as they copied their answers in.

This brings us to an interesting point in our studies on dishonesty. The next step is to explore the effects of “knock off”/fake goods that are sold in the market today. Is there a link between wearing fake goods and being dishonest? Coming up in part 5..

Wish you a happy weekend and happy week!