What is worse?

A colleague who steals money?

Or a colleague who steals other people’s ideas and pretends they came up with them?

According to new research by Lilien Ellis just published in June 2022, it seems like stealing other people’s ideas is seen as being much worse.

Through a series of experiments, Ellis investigated how someone would be perceived by others if they found out that they had stolen either an idea from someone else, or had stolen money.

Her results were remarkable:

  • People were less willing to offer co-worker support to an idea thief vs. money thief
  • When forced to choose, people preferred to work with a money thief (vs. idea thief)
  • Stealing creative ideas (vs. practical ideas) had more severe consequences

The research also indicated that it was not the monetary value of the idea being stolen which caused the lack of trust in the thief. It was the act of stealing an idea and passing it off as something the thief came up with themselves.

The irony here is that ideas by themselves have no value. People often worry that other people will steal their ideas, but this is unlikely to prevent you being able to make something of your idea.

And in artistic circles, people often emphasise the importance of stealing ideas from other artists. In this context though, stealing means being inspired by those who came before, and copying and transforming them in order to incorporate those skills and ideas into your own creativity.

However, this research indicates real harm to reputation which can occur if someone is caught stealing an idea and passing it off as their own. This apparently breaks some deep-rooted trust society places on honesty.

If you are worried that your idea is not good enough, instead of trying to steal someone else’s idea, just try these 16 scientifically proven methods to improve your own creativity.

That way, you will never have the need to steal an idea.

Did you know that scientific evidence shows your creativity decreases over time

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Creativity & Innovation expert: I help individuals and companies build their creativity and innovation capabilities, so you can develop the next breakthrough idea which customers love. Chief Editor of Ideatovalue.com and Founder / CEO of Improvides Innovation Consulting. Coach / Speaker / Author / TEDx Speaker / Voted as one of the most influential innovation bloggers.