Taboo desires, creativity, and career choice

Nathan W. Hudson, Dov Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two studies suggest that Protestants are more likely than Catholics or Jews to sublimate taboo desires into motives to pursue creative careers. The results are consistent with a synthesis of psychological and classic sociological theories. In Study 1, Protestants induced to have taboo sexual desires were likely to express a preference for creative careers (as opposed to prosocial ones). In Study 2, a national probability sample revealed that “conflicted” Protestants—who had taboo desires but tried to rule their sexual behavior according to their religious beliefs—worked in the most creative jobs. The effects in both studies did not hold for Catholics and Jews. Results suggest that intrapsychic conflict can partially motivate important real-world decisions, such as the choice to pursue a creative career.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)404-421
Number of pages18
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Career motivation
  • Creativity
  • Culture
  • Religion
  • Sublimation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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