Social rejects can be tomorrow's innovators because being an outcast can lead to heightened creativity and even commercial success, according to Cornell University researchers. "If you have the right way of managing rejection, feeling different can help you reach creative solutions," said Jack Goncalo, associate professor of organizational behavior at Cornell University's ILR School.
"Unlike people who have a strong need to belong, some socially rejected people shrug off rejection with an attitude of 'normal people don't get me and I am meant for something better.' Our paper shows how that works."
Sharon Kim of Johns Hopkins University, Gonaclo, and Lynne Vincent, an ILR visiting lecturer, co-authored, "Outside Advantage: Can Social Rejection Fuel Creative Thought?" The researchers found that social exclusion -- in the workplace or elsewhere -- can stimulate creativity for people with an independent sense of self.
"We're note dismissing the negative consequences rejection has on many individuals, but for some people, the rejection has a golden lining," Goncalo said. "For the socially rejected, creativity may be the best revenge."
- Kim, S. H., Vincent, L. C., & Goncalo, J. A. Outside advantage: Can social rejection fuel creative thought? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2012 (in press)
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