Social rejection can boost creativity, researchers find

October 18, 2012 by Mary Catt

(Medical Xpress)—Social misfits, rejoice. You might be more like Steve Jobs, Lady Gaga and Albert Einstein than you realize, if rejection boosts your creativity, reports a new Cornell study.

Being an outcast can lead to heightened creativity—even commercial success, according to research by Lynne Vincent, M.S./Ph.D. '12, an ILR visiting lecturer; Sharon Kim, M.S./Ph.D. '11, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University; and Jack Goncalo, ILR associate professor.

"We show that's possible ... if you have the right way of managing rejection," Goncalo said in an interview. "Feeling different can help you reach creative solutions."

Unlike people who have a strong need to belong, some socially rejected people shrug off rejection with an attitude of "normal people don't get me and I am meant for something better," he said. "Our paper is the first to show how that works."

"Outside Advantage: Can Fuel Creative Thought?" was named a best paper by the Managerial and Organizational Cognition Division.

Kim, Vincent and Goncalo accepted the award in Boston in early August at the annual conference of the Academy of Management, the world's largest and oldest scholarly management association.

The research will be published in the : General.

The three reached their conclusions after a series of experiments in which rejection was manipulated; participants were told that everyone in the study could choose whom they would work with on a team project and later told "nobody picked them," Goncalo said.

That kind of exclusion—in the workplace or elsewhere—stimulated creativity for people with an independent sense of self.

Goncalo and his colleagues don't dismiss the rejection has on many individuals.

But, for some, it has a golden lining, researchers said.

In short, "For the socially rejected, creativity may be the best revenge."

Explore further: Dont get mad, get creative: Social rejection can fuel imaginative thinking, study shows

Related Stories

Dont get mad, get creative: Social rejection can fuel imaginative thinking, study shows

August 21, 2012
It's not just in movies where nerds get their revenge. A study by a Johns Hopkins University business professor finds that social rejection can inspire imaginative thinking, particularly in individuals with a strong sense ...

People are biased against creative ideas, studies find

August 26, 2011
The next time your great idea at work elicits silence or eye rolls, you might just pity those co-workers. Fresh research indicates they don't even know what a creative idea looks like and that creativity, hailed as a positive ...

Powerful people overestimate their height

January 9, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- The psychological experience of power makes people feel taller than they are, according to research by ILR School associate professor of organizational behavior Jack Goncalo and a Washington University ...

Is there a hidden bias against creativity?

November 18, 2011
CEOs, teachers, and leaders claim they want creative ideas to solve problems. But creative ideas are rejected all the time. A new study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of ...

Recommended for you

Babies can learn that hard work pays off

September 21, 2017
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. A new study from MIT reveals that babies as young as 15 months can learn to follow this advice. The researchers found that babies who watched an adult struggle at two different ...

Study links brain inflammation to suicidal thinking in depression

September 21, 2017
Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) have increased brain levels of a marker of microglial activation, a sign of inflammation, according to a new study in Biological Psychiatry by researchers at the University of ...

Oxytocin turns up the volume of your social environment

September 20, 2017
Before you shop for the "cuddle" hormone oxytocin to relieve stress and enhance your social life, read this: a new study from the University of California, Davis, suggests that sometimes, blocking the action of oxytocin in ...

Researchers develop new tool to assess individual's level of wisdom

September 20, 2017
Researchers at University of San Diego School of Medicine have developed a new tool called the San Diego Wisdom Scale (SD-WISE) to assess an individual's level of wisdom, based upon a conceptualization of wisdom as a trait ...

Alcohol use affects levels of cholesterol regulator through epigenetics

September 20, 2017
In an analysis of the epigenomes of people and mice, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine and the National Institutes of Health report that drinking alcohol may induce changes to a cholesterol-regulating gene.

Self-control may not diminish throughout the day

September 20, 2017
After a long day of work and carefully watching what you eat, you might expect your self-control to slip a little by kicking back and cracking open a bag of potato chips.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ziphead
2 / 5 (2) Oct 18, 2012
"Social rejection can boost creativity, researchers find"

...and this is surprising because...???

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.