The Hidden Bias Against Creativity

Most people would agree that innovation and creativity are essential in every culture and society. Without creativity, the Sony Walkman® would still be the portable music player of choice. Without the introduction of statins, your father might have missed your college graduation due to a heart attack. The implications of a world without creativity are immense and directly proportionate to a world without brands.

So is the acceptance of creativity alive and well? The short answer is, "No". If you talk with your advertising agency or the serial entrepreneur down the street from you, they will tell you that most of their incredibly creative ideas have never seen the light of day. They believe that most people are averse to creative or innovative ideas, and they are correct in thinking that. Creativity, in the presence of uncertainty, caries a hidden, negative bias relative to practicality. (Mueller et al. 2011)

Ironically, Audia et al, 2007 proved that uncertainty spurs the search for and generation of creative ideas Mueller reveals that uncertainty also creates a bias, making us less able to recognize creativity, perhaps when we need it most. The bias is not overt, and regardless of the behaviors or feedback received, remember that the appraiser is asking themselves the following questions when they see something novel;

· Is this practical?

· Is it useful, functional?

· Is it reproducible, error-free?

· If I have to sell this to my peers, will it most likely be accepted or rejected?

· Will the end user, or target audience, embrace this idea?

A growing number of studies show a link between hidden biases and actual behavior. In other words, hidden biases can reveal themselves in action, especially when a person's efforts to control behavior consciously flags under stress, distraction, relaxation or competition.

Unconscious beliefs and attitudes have been found to be associated with language and certain behaviors such as eye contact, blinking rates and smiles. Monitoring these non-verbal cues and adjusting your presentation accordingly will help improve the socialization process and acceptance of any creative idea.