Creativity in Context: Update to the Social Psychology of Creativity

By Teresa M. Amabile; Mary Ann Collins et al. | Go to book overview
Figure 7-2. Mean creativity of poems by creative writers ( Amabile 1985). Note. Highest possible value is 40, lowest possible is 0.

Summary
Social-psychological factors can have important effects on creativity beyond the previously discussed influences of extrinsic constraints such as evaluation and control variables such as choice. On the basis of sociological, archival, and experimental research, several tentative conclusions can be drawn:
1. When people try to solve problems as a group, they may produce fewer ideas than they would individually; it is unclear whether the quality of ideas is consistently affected.
2. When people work individually on creativity tests in the presence of others, their performance may be impaired.
3. When people work individually on open-ended creative activities in the presence of others, there may be little impact on creativity unless those others are in a position to observe and possibly evaluate the performance. At this point, however, evidence on the effects of attentive observers on creativity is only suggestive.
4. Feelings of being evaluated undermine creativity, whether the work is done in group or individual settings.
5. An exposure to creative models early in one's professional development can have a positive impact on early creative achievement, although extended imitation of the model might, in the long run, undermine creativity.

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