Women and men have a similar potential for malevolent creativity - But their underlying brain mechanisms are different

Brain Res. 2023 Feb 15:1801:148201. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2022.148201. Epub 2022 Dec 12.


Research interest in gender differences in aggression and creative ideation cumulates in the phenomenon of malevolent creativity. Taking another critical step in understanding malevolent creativity, we investigated gender differences in brain activation and functional coupling of cortical sites in the EEG alpha band while n = 88 women and men purposefully generated malevolent creative ideas for taking revenge on others. Results showed that malevolent creativity performance between the genders was similar; however, their underlying EEG patterns were markedly different. While women exhibited a steep decrease of task-related alpha power from frontal to left central-temporal, men's malevolent creative ideation was characterized by a more diffuse pattern of task-related alpha power changes, along with decreased frontal-central coupling. Per interpretation, women's malevolent creative thinking may more strongly rely on controlled semantic memory retrieval and novel re-combination of social/relationship information, while men may utilize more automatic motor-related imagery that may predominantly facilitate physical revenge ideation. Our findings add novel evidence to the idea that women and men engage different neurocognitive strategies to achieve similar creative performance and may help to further illuminate the darker side of creative ideation.

Keywords: Alpha power; Event-related de-/synchronization; Gender differences; Malevolent creativity; Phase locking.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Creativity*
  • Electroencephalography* / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory