Stony Brook College of Business Innovation Center News

In a journal article titled "Is Being a Jerk Necessary for Originality? Examining the Role of Disagreeableness in the Sharing and Utilization of Original Ideas," Lily Cushenbery of CoB at SBU and Samuel Hunter of Penn State University conducted studies of mock marketing campaigns and chat rooms to test how ideas are shared in a business setting. The results of the two studies indicate what many of us know: That combative personalities help in many situations, but people often don’t know how to tone those tendencies down when they aren’t appropriate.

As Fast Company reported, the experiments aimed to show (in a controlled environment) how being a "jerk" translates over into work context. In the first experiment, students on a university campus divided into groups of three to develop marketing campaigns for a university's online learning division. The second experiment consisted of controlled interactions within a chat room; both studies focused on how participants with more abrasive personality traits interacted with their more agreeable peers. When they homed in on the results, the researchers found that the more open-minded and creative thinking a group was, the less amenable they were to taking the ideas of a "jerk" seriously.

Reference: Hunter, S.T. & Cushenbery, L. (2014). Is being a jerk necessary for originality? Examining the role of disagreeableness in the sharing and utilization of original ideas, Journal of Business and Psychology. DOI 10.1007/s10869-014-9386-1

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