The dark side of creativity: Neural correlates of malevolent creative idea generation

Neuropsychologia. 2022 Mar 12:167:108164. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2022.108164. Epub 2022 Jan 24.


Malevolent creativity, as one dark side of creativity, refers to manifestations people propose to harm themselves or others materially, mentally, or physically in an innovative way. This study aimed to explore the neural correlates of malevolent creative idea generation using task-based static and dynamic functional connectivity (FC) analysis across different time periods. We collected 34 participants who performed malevolent creativity task (MCT), benevolent creativity task (BCT), and realistic presented problems task (RPPT) in the fMRI scanner. The static connectivity analysis showed lower FC strength and global and local efficiency between the dorsal somatomotor network (dSMN), visual network (VN), default mode network (DMN), and reward network (RN) in MCT and RPPT than BCT. Dynamic connectivity analysis showed higher dynamic network reconfiguration in the DMN during MCT than BCT and RPPT. The behavioral results showed higher anxiety, anger, and lower pleasure in MCT than in BCT and RPPT. These findings indicate that the dSMN, VN, RN, and DMN are specifically involved in malevolent creative idea generation. Our findings provide the neural correlates of malevolent creative idea generation using neuroimaging techniques for the first time, which provides insight into the future study of malevolent creativity.

Keywords: Functional connectivity; Graph theory; Malevolent creativity; Network flexibility; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping* / methods
  • Brain* / diagnostic imaging
  • Creativity
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging