Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Are criminals more creative than the rest of us?

Steve Jobs guided Pixar and Apple to extraordinarily creative heights. But, by many accounts he was a jerk. Bill Clinton is one of the most brilliant political minds of his generation. But he repeatedly lied to the American people and justified all kinds of immoral behavior. Hollywood simultaneously bleeds both creativity and immorality. Is there a connection between creativity and bad behavior?

A new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that those of us who follow the rules might be too stupid to think of justifications not to. Five studies conducted by professors at Harvard and Duke show that "creative individuals are more likely to be dishonest." It's not because they are smarter. It is because "creativity leads people to more easily come up with justifications for their unscrupulous actions."

That made me think of a new excuse that my criminal defense clients can use for being dishonest: "I'm too creative to tell the truth." Sometimes, as a lawyer, I need to be creative when I am explaining my clients' behavior.

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