Ever exaggerated on your CV, or embellished anecdotes? Lots of us do, but surely we’re just being creative with the truth…? Indeed, it may be reasonable for fibbers to paint themselves as artistic, as US psychologists have now shown that lying boosts creativity.
To probe the relationship between dishonesty and creativity, the researchers carried out a two-part experiment. First, participants were given the chance to cheat at a task. For example, in one test people saw groups of numbers and had to pick two numbers adding to 10. They were rewarded for how quickly they did this, and reported their own scores – giving them the opportunity to lie. However, the scientists also knew the real results.
Next, their creativity was measured. The participants received sets of three words (e.g. falling, actor, dust) and had to determine the fourth word (e.g. star) linked to the other three. This task assessed creativity, as it highlighted someone’s ability to identify related ideas.
Nearly 59% of partakers exaggerated their mathematical prowess. The tricksters also appeared to be better creative thinkers, scoring higher on the word task than their truthful peers.
The researchers suggest that allowing people to flout regulations and cheat may boost their creativity. “The common saying that ‘rules are meant to be broken’ is at the root of both creative performance and dishonest behaviour,” says Dr Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School. “Both creativity and dishonesty, in fact, involve rule breaking.”
So, it seems that deceitfulness may activate your imagination! But don’t forget – an artful lie can never beat the truth.