Creativity Spurred by Small Feelings of Entitlement

New research finds temporary feelings of privilege or entitlement can boost creativity.

The perception of entitlement is usually considered a negative trait similar to narcissism or conceit.

Prior studies have found that those who feel entitled are less likely to help others or apologize. These individuals are more likely to want special privileges, break rules, treat their romantic partners selfishly, and make unethical decisions.

However, in a new study, researchers wanted to see if a perception of entitlement was associated with any positive consequences. They discovered that inspiring entitlement in people stimulates their creativity.

The condition was prompted by a short exercise where subjects were encouraged to write sentences about why they deserved various positive outcomes.

“Our results suggest that people who feel more entitled value being different from others, and the greater their need for uniqueness, the more they break convention, think divergently, and give creative responses,” say Lynne C. Vincent, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow at Vanderbilt University, and Emily Zitek, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Cornell.

The study is published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

For the study, subjects were given a boost in feelings of entitlement before completing a set of tasks. Tasks included imagining uses for a paper clip, drawing a space alien, and a word association exercise. Test subjects made to feel entitled outdid the non-entitled every time and by significant margins.

To clarfy, the study investigated “state entitlement,” meaning small, temporary boosts in feelings of entitlement. It did not test “trait entitlement,” a more permanent state of mind.

“We have failed to find positive relationships between trait entitlement and creativity across several studies,” Vincent and Zitek write. “Similarly, narcissism, which is correlated with trait entitlement, is not consistently related to actual creativity.”

There could be other positive consequences of state entitlement, and Vincent and Zitek suggest further study.

“For example, due to the heightened need for uniqueness associated with entitlement, entitled individuals might be more willing to engage in other tasks that require them to stand out, such as public speaking, pitching an idea, and whistle-blowing,” they write.

Source: Vanderbilt University

Creative woman photo by shutterstock.