Wednesday, July 17, 2013

David & Arthur Cropley's "Creativity & Crime: A Psychological Analysis"

David H. Cropley is a former officer in the United Kingdom's Royal Navy. He has been a member of staff at the University of South Australia since 1990, teaching across a range of topics in electronic and systems engineering. From 2003 to 2007 he was Director of the University's Systems Engineering and Evaluation Centre (SEEC). Since 2006 he has been very active in developing masters degrees in systems engineering with a particular focus on flexible delivery and has built up considerable experience in the application of tools such as virtual classrooms to the delivery of postgraduate education. Together with Arthur Cropley he has published Fostering Creativity: A Diagnostic Approach for Higher Education and Organisations (2009) and in conjunction with Cropley, James Kaufman and Mark Runco was co-editor of The Dark Side of Creativity (2010).

David and Arthur Cropley's new book is Creativity and Crime: A Psychological Analysis, to which David applied the “Page 99 Test” and reported the following:
Page 99 of Creativity & Crime: A Psychological Analysis is close to the climax of the first half of the book, and also the crux of the mirror-image point of the book. The subject matter, at this stage of the book is not crime, or negative aspects of creativity, but a discussion of the bright side of creativity. This is necessary, of course, because, as we say on the page in question, “creativity is seen as inextricably tied in with beauty”. The key message of the book is that creativity is traditionally seen as a positive, benevolent and constructive attribute, and yet effective, novel and elegant crimes are committed all the time which illustrate that creativity can also serve a darker – a malevolent – purpose.

So, while page 99 sits in the midst of a discussion of why society values creativity, it also hints at this dark side that is the theme of the book. Even in the case of a work of art – something that might be thought of as unequivocally good and creative – we draw attention to the differences between experienced and inexperienced judges. How is it possible for the same work – Russell Drysdale’s Woman in a Landscape – to be hailed both as a great work, worthy of a major prize and also as too ugly even to be called creative?

Shortly after page 99 we begin to explore this dark side of creativity. How do criminals, especially resourceful criminals like fraudsters and terrorists, employ creativity to more effectively achieve their law-breaking aims? We tackle this from a psychological perspective, employing established concepts to shed light on malevolent creativity, and also on strategies for combatting it. However, we do not attempt to give the reader a recipe for counteracting creative crime – rather, our hope is that the book will help law-enforcers themselves to think creatively about their activities, and to generate effective, novel countermeasures to malevolent creativity.
Learn more about Creativity & Crime at the Cambridge University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue