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Why Your Neurotic Employees Might Also Be Your Most Creative

For this group of people, high-stakes situations and stress can help to generate a myriad of ideas.

If your company is in need of some creative inspiration, try tapping into the brains of your most neurotic employees, a recent study suggests. 

Researchers from Singapore and Taiwan found that when neurotic people are put in high-stress situations, they're better at generating ideas. This according to a post in Pacific Standard, which referred to the finding as "the Woody Allen effect."  

To conduct the study, the researchers asked 274 Taiwanese university students to fill out a questionnaire designed to measure their "intrinsic neuroticism." From there, different students were asked to recall a happy, worrisome, or neutral event they had experienced.

Next, researchers asked the participants to either memorize an eight-digit number, which placed those students in a high-cognitive load state, or a two-digit number--an easier task. Finally, all were asked to come up with as many uses for a brick as possible.

The researchers found that intrinsically neurotic people came up with much more creative brick solutions after they had recalled a worrisome event and were forced into in a high-cognitive load state. By contrast, non-neurotics were better at flexible thinking after recalling neutral events. 

These aren't the first researchers interested in studying the traits that neurotic people display in the workplace. Recent research has also found that people who have neurotic tendencies are very productive remote workers.

Last updated: Jul 21, 2014

LAURA MONTINI | Staff Writer

Laura Montini is a reporter at Inc. She previously covered health care technology for Health 2.0 News and has served as an associate editor at The Health Care Blog. She lives in San Francisco.

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