December 28, 2011


Several years ago I heard a psychologist say that people who were creative risked becoming neurotic because they were capable of envisioning several outcomes, good and bad, for any given situation. I don’t know if what he said had any research behind it, but the comment stuck in my head. As I always fancied myself a writer, I wondered if he was suggesting I might benefit from counseling.  If so, I take no offense. Frankly, I wish I could afford to spend an hour talking about myself with someone who would listen sympathetically. 


The psychologist’s remark came to mind the other day when I read that some Harvard researchers have found a correlation between creativity and cheating (“This Week,” Dec 16). Oddly enough the correlation does not exist for people with high IQs. People who think well but lack imagination are about as honest as the general population. But divergent thinking, so prized as “thinking outside of the box,” has this adverse side effect:

          “When you’re a creative person, you can use that creativity to come up with reasons for why unethical behaviors may be okay.”                                (Francesca Gino, “This Week”)

 Plato may have sensed this truth long before the Harvard researchers made it fact. That artists are adept at avoiding pangs of conscience may be the reason why he barred them from his utopian Republic. But…what a dull world that would have been.