A new study published in the Journal of Psychological Science helps explain why many people try to pooh-pooh novel ideas. They find it scary.
Research by the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of the experiments that involved 200 subjects, showed that while people say they want creativity, in reality they reject it partly because creative ideas are by definition novel, and novelty can trigger feelings of uncertainty that make most people uncomfortable. In the study people explicitly claimed to desire creative ideas, but associated them with negative words such as “vomit,” “poison” and “agony.” This leads to a bias against creative ideas, which in turn can make it more difficult for people to recognize creative ideas.
The researchers conclude: “Revealing the existence and nature of a bias against creativity can help explain why people might reject creative ideas and stifle scientific advancements, even in the face of strong intentions to the contrary. … The field of creativity may need to shift its current focus from identifying how to generate more creative ideas to identify how to help innovative institutions recognize and accept creativity.”