Creativity in Context: Update to the Social Psychology of Creativity

By Mary Ann Collins; Regina Conti et al. | Go to book overview
were judged as significantly more creative (M = 183.93, on a scale from 0 to 320) than those made by children in the no-choice condition (M = 144.57). In addition, children in the choice condition spent more time (though not significantly more) with the collage materials during the free-play period (M = 3.00 minutes) than did children in the no-choice condition (M = 2.07 minutes).This simple study makes an important point: People given a choice in certain aspects of task engagement will produce more creative work than people for whom the choice is made by someone else. The restriction of choice is unlike the constraints considered earlier, in some respects. With both evaluation and reward, subjects are presented with some external goal to be met; the target activity is the means to that goal. There is no such goal, however, with the restriction of choice. Instead, this constraint is only similar to the others in signalling external control over behavior. This, clearly, is in keeping with the intrinsic motivation hypothesis: If individuals see their task engagement as extrinsically motivated--externally controlled--they will be less creative than if they see task engagement as internally controlled.
Summary
The research presented in this chapter offers considerable support for the intrinsic motivation hypothesis of creativity. It suggests that widely differing external constraints will undermine creativity, as long as those constraints can lead people to view their work as extrinsically motivated rather than intrinsically motivated:
Contracting to do an activity in order to obtain a reward can be detrimental to creative performance on that activity. This effect obtains even if the reward is simply another activity, and even if the reward is delivered before the creative activity is begun.
Choice in whether to do a task can interact with the offer of reward for task engagement. Monetary reward given for a task about which the subject has no choice can enhance creativity (perhaps by inducing positive affect), but monetary reward offered to the subject in exchange for his consent to do the task can undermine creativity.
Choice in aspects of how to do a task can enhance creativity and intrinsic interest.
There is a consistent positive relationship between expressed interest in an activity and actual creativity of performance.

Update

Reward

Research on the effects of reward on human behavior continues to generate considerable interest and controversy both within and outside of academic psychology. In the 1983 edition, we reported some studies demonstrating negative effects

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