Want to be more creative at work? Maybe you should be PC

The unexpected benefits of kindness: being politically correct can actually boost creativity – study said.

There are many of us, who thinks political correctness is a necessary social norm. It keeps workplaces civil and employers feeling safe. Others consider political correctness kills free speech, and creativity.

When it comes to political correctness, who’s correct?


In mixed-gender groups, being PC makes everyone more comfortable and lets ideas flow

Recent research suggests that embracing political correctness can actually have a positive effect on workplace creativity. In “Creativity from Constraint? How the Political Correctness Norm Influences Creativity in Mixed-Sex Work Groups,” authors Jack Goncalo (Cornell University), Jennifer Chatman (University of California, Berkeley), Michelle Duguid (Washington University), and Jessica Kennedy (Vanderbilt University) challenge the assumption that unfiltered perspectives are more valuable in a work setting.By studying behaviours in 150 brainstorming groups, Goncalo and his colleagues found political correctness (“PC”) can actually sharpen, rather than dull, an individual’s contribution to a group.

During the research they sat down students in groups of three to brainstorm ideas on how to use a vacant space on campus. Some of the groups were all men, some all women, others mixed.

Control groups got to start right away on the brainstorming, but the test groups were primed with a script.

The research team told those groups that they were interested in collecting examples from college undergraduates of politically correct behavior on campus. They were instructed to, as a group, list examples of political correctness that they had either heard of or directly experienced on this campus.

Political correctness increase creativity in mixed-sex teams

The researchers assessed the ideas each group generated after 10 minutes of brainstorming. In the mixed groups however, creativity got a boost. “They generated more ideas, and those ideas were more novel,” researcher said.

The researchers suspect that the safe space created by political correctness helped people be more open with their ideas and reduced the uncertainty people felt about how they should act.

Setting politically correct norms helps promote the free expression of ideas in mixed-sex work groups by reducing anxiety about sharing potentially offensive ideas.

Cover photo via Facebook

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