Department or Program


Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Beth Hennessey


Creativity is most often perceived to be a highly desirable and exclusively positive attribute, yet both history and a growing body of research remind us that creativity is not always benevolent. When creativity is deliberately used to cause harm, it is known as “malevolent creativity.” An extreme example of malevolent creativity is the development of the atomic bomb. To better understand the mechanisms underlying the production of malevolently creative products and problem solutions, this study investigated the degree to which demonstrations of benevolent creativity (commonly referred to simply as creativity), creative self-efficacy (a personal judgment of one’s own creative ability), and psychological entitlement (feelings that one is more deserving than others) influenced demonstrations of malevolent creativity among college students. Additionally, the potential role played by culture in the manifestation of malevolent creativity was explored by recruiting participants from the US (n1 = 60) and China (n2 = 60). In the present study, creative self-efficacy was found to be a significant predictor of malevolent creativity for both US and Chinese participants. However, benevolent creativity only predicted malevolent creativity for US participants, suggesting that malevolent creativity emerged as a more separate construct from benevolent creativity in China than in the US.

Keywords: creativity, malevolent creativity, creative self-efficacy, cross-cultural study