"Art is a lie that tells the truth," Picasso famously said.
New scientific research agrees, linking greater creativity with greater lying and cheating.
According to Dan Ariely’s latest book The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, habitual liars have 14% less gray matter in their prefrontal cortices, the part of the brain concerned with recognizing right and wrong. While gray matter can be thought of as like a computer, white matter is more akin to the network cables that connect those computers. And that's where liars and cheaters are different. In a brain study, pathological liars had 22 to 26 percent more white matter than usual, enabling them to make unorthodox connections between thoughts, emotions, and ideas. In short, the cheaters were able to rationalize their cheating because they could create more compelling stories for themselves to explain their behavior.
This doesn’t mean that the more creative you are the more of a cheater you are—correlation doesn’t equal causation. But Ariely does rightly point out that cheating requires a creative mindset. Such was the case with [Frank] Abagnale [the notorious con artist who was the subject of the film Catch Me If You Can]. He didn’t cheat because of his creativity, but his novel brand of thievery couldn’t have been possible without his wildly creative mind. After all, “facts are for people who lack imagination to create their own truth.”