Project Information

Kurt Lewin Instituut
Heidelberglaan 1
Room Number H1.42
The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)30 - 253 3027

Project Information

Project Title
"The Function of Creativity: When Creativity Helps to Avoid Aversive States"

University of Amsterdam - Work and Organizational Psychology

PhD Student
Yujie Cheng

Dr. Matthijs Baas (University of Amsterdam)
Prof.dr. Carsten K.W. de Dreu (University of Amsterdam)

1 October 2012 - 1 October 2016

External sources: China Scholarship Council


My research mainly focuses on the function of creativity, specifically when and how aversive states may enhance creativity. There are two motivational systems: approach and avoidance. People may pursue positive goals that activate the approach system. They may also strive to create safety and predictability in response to threats and uncertainty-these goals activate the avoidance system that prepares the individual to deal with aversive situations. Despite previous research indicates negative relationship between avoidance motivation and creativity, we argue that aversive states may enhance original ideation (1) when people are motivated to cope with their situation and focus their attention on information that is relevant to their current needs, (2) the effects are primarily driven by persistent thinking, and (3) the enhanced originality only in domains that are relevant to their goals, but not in domains irrelevant. We conduct both experiments and field studies to test the basic prediction that aversive states (threats, uncertainty) may enhance originality when creativity helps achieving relevant goals.

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