Article | Journal of Personality and Social Psychology | February 1985

Motivation and Creativity: Effects of Motivational Orientation on Creative Writers

by T. M. Amabile

Abstract

72 members of the college community who identified themselves as actively involved in creative writing participated in individual laboratory sessions, in which they were asked to write 2 brief poems, to investigate the hypothesis that intrinsic motivation is conducive to creativity and extrinsic motivation is detrimental. In the present study, intrinsic motivation was defined as resulting from an S's interest in and enjoyment of writing for its own sake, while extrinsic motivation was defined as resulting from the external things obtained by writing (e.g., rewards, approval). Ss were divided into approximately equal groups that were designated as intrinsic-orientation, extrinsic-orientation, and control conditions. Before writing the 2nd poem, Ss in the intrinsic-orientation condition completed a questionnaire on intrinsic reasons for being involved in writing, and Ss in the extrinsic-orientation condition completed a questionnaire on extrinsic reasons. Ss in the control condition were not given a questionnaire on reasons for writing. Results indicate that, although there were no initial differences between conditions on prior involvement in writing or on creativity of the 1st poems written, there were significant differences in the creativity of the poems written after the experimental manipulations. Poems written under an extrinsic orientation were significantly less creative than those written in the other 2 conditions. Implications for social-psychological and individual-difference conceptions of creativity are discussed.

Keywords: Social Psychology; Creativity; Motivation and Incentives; Performance; Personal Characteristics; Situation or Environment;

Citation:

Amabile, T. M. "Motivation and Creativity: Effects of Motivational Orientation on Creative Writers." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 48, no. 2 (February 1985): 393–399.