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  • Cited by 3
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012

13 - Both Sides of the Coin? Personality, Deviance, and Creative Behavior

Summary

Rupert Holmes wrote in the musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1979), “Would you not quite feel quite the fool of deception/To find the same face on both sides of the coin?.” To elaborate on this a bit, consider Hannibal Lecter's escape from prison in Silence of the Lambs. He attacks and kills two guards. Rather than trying to run, he puts on a guard's uniform, dumps the guard down an elevator shaft, and places the guard's removed face onto his own. The responding officers assume that Lecter is actually the guard and put him in an ambulance – from which he escapes. Lecter is not only evil; he is also amazingly creative. Are his deviant behavior and creativity linked together as common traits, the way that a talented novelist also may write interesting e-mails? Or are they distinct entities in the same manner that a talented novelist also may make excellent birdcalls, cook tasty hash browns, or run a marathon? The relationship between creativity and deviant behavior – with the common ground of personality – is the subject of this chapter.

Personality is an immensely complicated facet of human psychology that is affected by heredity, social ties, environmental factors, biology, and the list goes on. Personality, in turn, affects human behavior in a variety of ways. Keeping Lecter's creative maneuvering in mind, the important questions to consider are (a) Does personality cause deviant behavior? and (b) Can personality predict future likelihood of involvement in criminal behavior?

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