Sarcasm – a Catalyst for Creativityadmin
While sarcasm tends to get a bad rap, a team of researchers from Harvard, Columbia and INSEAD business schools recently released a study highlighting some overlooked psychological and organizational benefits of sarcasm. Published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, the study states that general forms of sarcarm promote creativty in both the expresser (the person being sarcastic) and the recipient (the listener).
In the study, participants were randomly assigned one of three conditions – sarcastic, sincere, or neutral. During simulated conversations, participants then expressed something sarcastic or sincere, received a sarcastic or sincere reply, or had a neutral exchange.
“Those in the sarcasm conditions subsequently performed better on creativity tasks than those in the sincere conditions or the control condition,” Adam Galinsky of Columbia Business School told the Harvard Gazette via email. “This suggests that sarcasm has the potential to catalyze creativity in everyone. That being said, although not the focus of our research, it is possible that naturally creative people are also more likely to use sarcasm, making it an outcome instead of [a] cause in this relationship.”
Galinsky continues that although previous research suggest sarcasm is detrimental to effective communmication because it appears more contemptuous than sincereity, “we found that, unlike sarcasm between parties who distrust each other, saracasm between individuals who share a trusting relationship does not generate more contempt than sincereity.”
Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School hopes that this research “will inspire organizations and communications coaches to take a renewed look at sarcasm.” Rather than discouraging workplace sarcasm all together, educating employees about when sarcasm may be used, Gino believes that both the employees and companies will be able to benefit from the associated creativity sarcasm expressers and recipients both exhibit.