Conflict and creativity: Threat-rigidity or motivated focus
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Number of pages
Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
According to the traditional threat-rigidity reasoning, people in social conflict will be less flexible, less creative, more
narrow-minded, and more rigid in their thinking when they adopt a conflict rather than a cooperation mental set. The authors
propose and test an alternative, motivated focus account that better fits existing evidence. The authors report experimental
results inconsistent with a threat-rigidity account, but supporting the idea that people focus their cognitive resources on
conflict-related material more when in a conflict rather than a cooperation mental set: Disputants with a conflict (cooperation)
set have broader (smaller) and more (less) inclusive cognitive categories when the domain of thought is (un)related to conflict
(Experiment 1a-1b). Furthermore, they generate more, and more original competition tactics (Experiments 2 - 4), especially
when they have low rather than high need for cognitive closure. Implications for conflict theory, for motivated information
processing, and creativity research are discussed.
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