- Motivated creativity: A conservation of energy approach
- Award date
- 27 February 2013
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
This dissertation developed a novel conservation of energy principle to explain how approach and avoidance motivation influence performance. On the one hand, we showed that avoidance motivated people can excel when they are sufficiently stimulated to invest their energy and cognitive resources. This is the case, for example, when this investment is likely to result in successful avoidance of failure. Even when performance depends on creativity and insight, such stimulation can lead to high levels of performance. Usually creativity and insight are associated with the flexible and associative way of thinking evoked by approach motivation. However, by investing energy and cognitive resources avoidance motivated people can compensate for their systematic and controlled way of thinking, and achieve the same levels of creative performance as approach motivated people.
On the other hand, it appears that Johan Cruijff was onto something when he noted that it is much easier to play well than to prevent playing badly. Although avoidance motivation may be effective in short-term projects due to the recruitment of cognitive resources and control, it may be counterproductive in the long run, when energy gets depleted and people feel mentally exhausted. Even in the short run negative effects of avoidance goal striving may emerge, because it makes people more prone to cognitive overload when facing distracters or stressors. This dissertation shows that performance under avoidance motivation can be effective, but is difficult, depleting, and easily undermined.
- Kurt Lewin Institute dissertation series 2013-6
Research conducted at: Universiteit van Amsterdam
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