Archives for creativity



Some Evidence on the Relationship Between Copyright and Profit

How do copyright laws affect creativity? Do stronger laws increase profitability — and, therefore, do they increase creativity? If musicians/filmmakers/authors/software designers/etc. etc. etc. don’t have the strong incentive of copyright protection, will they create less or inferior work?

These question are both broad and long; many great minds have wrestled with them, and will continue to do so. Our recurring guest bloggers Kal Raustiala and Chris Sprigman regularly discuss copyright; Levitt touched on it here, and we discussed copyright protection in this podcast.

Now, in a new working paper (abstract; PDF) called “Copyright and the Profitability of Authorship: Evidence from Payments to Writers in the Romantic Period,” Megan MacGarvie and Petra Moser take up the argument: 

Scott Turow, President of the American Authors’ Guild, warned that regimes that weaken copyright, such as digital piracy may cause the “slow death of the American author” (Turow 2013). Empirical analyses of file sharing, however, reveal no significant effects on the quantity or quality of recorded music (Oberholzer-Gee and Strumpf 2009; Waldfogel 2013), which suggests that the importance of copyright protection may be overstated.

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FREAK-est Links

1. Movie tickets cost as much as $48; “Star Wars” creator George Lucas predicts that ticket prices are only going up. (HT: SM Fishman)

2. Name wars: Borghese Inc. fights the Borghese family for the right to market with the royal name.

3. Does dim lighting enhance creativity?

4. An interactive data map (in French) of Paris Metro lines crossed with socioeconomic and political indicators. Read More »



Alcohol as Muse

New research indicates that alcohol, which many a moody poet has indulged in, may actually increase creativity. Psychologists Andrew F. Jarosz, Gregory J.H. Colflesh, and Jennifer Wiley recruited 40 males, got half of them a little tipsy on vodka, and then subjected them to the “Remote Associates Test,” which tests insightful thinking.  Their results, as summarized by the BPS Research Digest, were surprisingly good: Read More »



Some Links We Like

1. Can a company called Dwolla drastically reduce vendors’ credit-card fees? (HT: Anthony Farrell)

2. A potential “game-changer in the field of [organ] transplantation” — stem cells from the donor may replace anti-rejection drugs.

3. Teaching math in prison. (HT: Arts & Letters)

4. Writer’s block? New study on the best time of day to be creative.



The Heirs of Creativity

A short paper published this week by NBER from authors Albert N. Link and Christopher J. Ruhm takes a simple but oft-neglected look into patents and creativity; namely, how creative parents influence their potentially creative children.

The abstract states:

In this paper we show that the patenting behavior of creative entrepreneurs is correlated with the patenting behavior of their fathers, which we refer to as a source of the entrepreneurs’ human capital endowments. Our argument for this relationship follows from established theories of developmental creativity, and our empirical analysis is based on survey data collected from MIT’s Technology Review winners.

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Why We Desire But Reject Creative Ideas

According to a new paper by researchers at Cornell, University of Pennsylvania, and the University of North Carolina, creative ideas make people uncomfortable. The paper, which is based on two studies from U. Penn. involving more than 200 people, is set to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science. Here’s an earlier ungated version.

From the abstract:

People often reject creative ideas even when espousing creativity as a desired goal. To explain this paradox, we propose that people can hold a bias against creativity that is not necessarily overt, and which is activated when people experience a motivation to reduce uncertainty. In two studies, we measure and manipulate uncertainty using different methods including: discrete uncertainty feelings, and an uncertainty reduction prime. The results of both studies demonstrated a negative bias toward creativity (relative to practicality) when participants experienced uncertainty. Furthermore, the bias against creativity interfered with participants’ ability to recognize a creative idea. These results reveal a concealed barrier that creative actors may face as they attempt to gain acceptance for their novel ideas.

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Go Ahead and Get Mad: Why Anger Spurs Creativity (But Not for Long)

A series of studies by Dutch researchers examines the effect anger has on people’s problem solving skills, and finds that angry people produce a higher volume of ideas, as well as more creative ones than their non-angry counterparts. The study’s authors reason that anger is usually accompanied by a feeling of intense energy and a less-structured style of thinking, two factors that lead to creative forms of brainstorming.

That burst of productivity however is short-lived and ultimately creativity is reduced as a result. The authors found that anger leads to initially higher levels of creativity than sadness, but that anger depletes resources more. As a result creative performance declines over time more for angry people than sad ones.

So, if it’s your job to be creative for long periods of time, better to be sad than angry. But if all you need are short bursts of sporadic creativity, rage away. Read More »