The effect of emotional intelligence and task type on malevolent creativity

Daniel J. Harris, Roni Reiter-Palmon, James C. Kaufman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Malevolent creativity (MC), or intending to inflict harm in original ways, is an aspect of creativity that has received little empirical attention. It reasons that generating malevolently creative products in response to a problem is dependent upon individual differences and environmental factors, especially with regard to the social and emotional content of a particular problem. A personality variable strongly associated with how individuals acknowledge and respond to such social and emotional content is emotional intelligence (EI). Individuals with higher EI often solve problems in cooperative, beneficial, and positive ways, which seems contrary to solving a problem with MC. In addition to testing whether EI is negatively related to MC in general, we analyzed whether that negative relationship would persist even after controlling for cognitive ability and task effects. Those questions were examined across two studies. Results suggest that individuals with lower EI are more likely to respond to different types of problems with increased instances of MC even when the social or emotional content of those problems are factored out. The implications and limitations of these studies, as well as future directions for the study of MC, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-244
Number of pages8
JournalPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • Creative problem solving
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Malevolent creativity
  • Task effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Applied Psychology


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