You’d be hard-pressed to find a person or organization who says they’re opposed to creativity. It’s seen as an unequivocally good thing. Everyone wants to have creative ideas.
But we don’t always behave in a way that indicates we value creativity. We resist new ideas. For instance, schools are meant to foster creativity. Yet research indicates that teachers dislike students who exhibit curiosity and creative thinking.
Why are our attitudes to creativity so contradictory?
Three researchers at Cornell University took a stab at the answer:
We offer a new perspective to explain this puzzle. Just as people have deeply-rooted biases against people of a certain age, race or gender that are not necessarily overt (Greenwald & Banaji, 1995), so too can people hold deeply-rooted negative views of creativity that are not openly acknowledged. Revealing the existence and nature of a bias against creativity can help explain why people might reject creative ideas and stifle scientific advancement, even in the face of strong intentions to the contrary.
Creative ideas are novel and useful. Yet idea-evaluators (decision-makers) have a hard time “viewing novelty and practicality as attributes that go hand in hand,” and, in fact, often view them as inversely related.
When endorsing a novel idea, people can experience failure, perceptions of risk, social rejection when expressing the idea to others, and uncertainty about when their idea will reach completion.
And we generally like to avoid uncertainty:
Although the positive associations with creativity are typically the focus of attention both among scholars and practitioners, the negative associations may also be activated when people evaluate a creative idea. For example, research on associative thinking suggests that strong uncertainty feelings may make the negative attributes of creativity, particularly those related to uncertainty, more salient
The authors conclude:
Our results show that regardless of how open minded people are, when they feel motivated to reduce uncertainty either because they have an immediate goal of reducing uncertainty, or feel uncertain generally, this may bring negative associations with creativity to mind which result in lower evaluations of a creative idea.
Source: The Bias Against Creativity: Why People Desire: But Reject Creative Ideas