Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Trait Affect and Individual Creativity: Moderating Roles of Affective Climate and Reflexivity

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Trait Affect and Individual Creativity: Moderating Roles of Affective Climate and Reflexivity

Article excerpt

As a major source of innovation, creativity has become critical to organizations striving to sustain a competitive edge in a fast-changing, knowledge-based economy (Paulus, 2000). Concurrent with the increasing importance of creativity in organizations, various determinant factors have been identified. Among these, one of the most researched is the role of affect in creativity, for which scholars have offered various explanations (To, Ashkanasy, Fisher, & Rowe, 2010). The prevailing hypothesis in earlier studies was that positive moods facilitate creativity by enhancing cognitive flexibility (Isen, 2000), modifying informationprocessing style (Schwarz, 1990), and broadening individuals' thought-action repertoire (Fredrickson & Branigan, 2005). However, the current focus in perspectives on the mood-creativity link is more on the conditions under which moods can promote creativity, rather than on the default effects of moods on creativity (e.g., George & Zhou, 2007).

The mood-as-input perspective (Martin, Ward, Achee, & Wyer, 1993) offers a theoretical foundation for current trends of thinking, according to which scholars favor a more nuanced model, in which both positive and negative moods can lead to creativity. This perspective challenges the dominant idea in the existing literature that affect predisposes individuals toward particular styles of information processing. Instead, it is postulated that mood interacts with context to shape cognitive strategy and subsequent performance (Hirt, Devers, & McCrea, 2008; Martin et al., 1993), which raises the questions of how an individual interprets the meaning of his/her mood state, and what the influences are on these affective interpretations. Our study is grounded in the mood-as-input model, and we aimed to identify the contextual conditions that can lead to different affective influences on creativity. Specifically, we examined group affective climate and group reflexivity as potential boundary conditions that influence the individuallevel affect-creativity relationship as these conditions operate as affective and cognitive lenses through which individual group members attach meaning to their work-group environment (Carr, Schmidt, Ford, & DeShon, 2003).

In group settings, affective and cognitive experiences shared among group members may impact on how an individual both interprets the meaning of his/ her affect, and capitalizes on the potentially beneficial effects of affect on his/ her creativity. First, group affective climate refers to the overall affective tone and affective exchanges that characterize a group (Härtel, Gough, & Härtel, 2008). It can be described as an internally consistent level of either positive or negative affect in groups, may elicit a gain or a loss decision frame for group members (Grawitch & Munz, 2005), and can offer them psychological safety (West & Richter, 2008), thus affecting their creative performance. On the other hand, group reflexivity refers to the process of collectively reflecting upon the group's goals and ways to achieve these goals (Urbach, Fay, & Goral, 2010; West, 1996). Group reflexivity has been found to improve both information exchange and learning in groups (De Dreu & Beersma, 2010), thus producing a creativity-supportive environment in which individuals may capitalize on their creativity-enhancing potential.

In sum, in this study we aimed to extend existing research on the affectcreativity link by examining the role of trait affect in creativity, and by incorporating multilevel perspectives (Kozlowski & Klein, 2000). We depart from the perspective taken by prior scholars, who examined state affect or momentary moods, by exploring the complementary strength of trait affect in relation to creativity research because of time frame. Through identifying and empirically examining how group climate shapes the relationship between trait affect and creativity at the individual level, we will broaden the focus of affect research, most of which has been centered around investigation of affect at the individual level. …

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