Creative Jerks Only Impress the Close-Minded

To have original ideas, you don't need to be cantankerous. But having a disagreeable personality can help you get your ideas implemented, according to a new study of workplace psychology.

To have original ideas, you don't need to be cantankerous. But having a disagreeable personality can help you get your ideas implemented, according to a new study of workplace psychology, if the team surrounding you is resistant to innovation and change.


In a study conducted by Samuel Hunter of Pennsylvania State University and Lily Cushenbery of Stony Brook University, 201 university students were observed while they contributed ideas in a group setting. Hunter and Cushenbery observed that being disagreeable–a combination of attributes that include being overly confident, dominant, argumentative, egotistic, headstrong or sometimes even hostile—wasn't necessary for creative ideas to arise.

Disagreeable individuals did, however, have more success at getting the group to accept their idea.

In a second study, researchers found that social context is crucial when it comes to implementing new and creative ideas. It turns out that bludgeoning others with the force of your personality—à la Steve Jobs—begins to backfire when your coworkers are already open to new ideas.

When individuals tried to force their ideas on open-minded groups, they proved less effective.

Big Think expert Nina DiSesa knows a thing or two about leading groups of creative individuals. Selected as one of the "Fifty Most Powerful Women in American Business," SiSesa helped add $2.5 billion in revenue as the first female Executive Creative Director for McCann Erickson New York. To lead a creative group, she says, it's essential to have some creative chops of your own:

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