Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Corr I 447
Creativity/Self-Determination Theory/SDT/Deci/Ryan: studies have shown that autonomous motivation, which comprises intrinsic motivation and the more fully internalized forms of extrinsic motivation (i.e., identified and integrated), has consistently been associated with more positive relational, performance and wellbeing outcomes. For example, an experiment by McGraw and McCullers (1979(1)) examined the relation of motivation to cognitive flexibility. In it, they gave participants a problem-solving task in which the participants tended to develop a mental set for solving the problems. Half of the participants were rewarded for solving the puzzles and half were not.
Then, participants were given a problem that required breaking their mental set and thinking in a fresher way, and the results showed that those who had been rewarded for solving the earlier problems had a harder time breaking set and thus did less well on the new problem. In motivational terms, this suggests that rewarded participants had become more controlled in their motivation and this was associated with a more rigid, less flexible mode of thinking and information-processing. Experiments by Amabile (1979(2), 1982(3)) showed that participants who were told their artistic work would be evaluated and those who competed to win a reward for their artistic endeavours made products that were judged to be less creative than did participants who were not being evaluated or competing for a reward.



1. McGraw, K. O. and McCullers, J. C. 1979. Evidence of a detrimental effect of extrinsic incentives on breaking a mental set, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 15: 285–94
2. Amabile, T. M. 1979. Effects of external evaluations on artistic creativity, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 37: 221–33
3. Amabile, T. M. 1982. Children’s artistic creativity: detrimental effects of competition in a field setting, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 8: 573–8


Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan, „Self-determination theory: a consideration of human motivational universals“, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Deci, Edward L.
Corr I
Philip J. Corr
Gerald Matthews
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009

Corr II
Philip J. Corr (Ed.)
Personality and Individual Differences - Revisiting the classical studies Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne 2018


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