Ethical saliency: Deterring deviance in creative individuals

Melissa B. Gutworth, Samuel T. Hunter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Although creativity is commonly thought to be a universally beneficial outcome, a relationship has been found between creativity and deviance. Certain cognitive processes, such as flexible thinking, have been proposed as the connection between creativity and deviance, as creative people often possess the ability to think "outside of the box" and view situations differently than those who are less creative. Despite creative people having flexible thinking, however, not all engage in deviance. We explore possible situational factors that may predict deviance in creative people and test a contextual manipulation aimed at deterring deviance. In agreement with expectations, results show that ambiguous ethical situations, where rules are unclear, provide more of an opportunity for creative people to engage in deviance. In ethically salient conditions, where rules are reinforced, deviance is reduced. Counter to predictions, however, creativity seems to be unaffected or even slightly enhanced by ethically salient conditions. By creating an ethically salient environment, it may be possible to deter deviance while still allowing for creative expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)428-439
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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