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Psychol Bull. 2012 Jul;138(4):809-30. doi: 10.1037/a0027652. Epub 2012 Mar 12.

Rewards and creative performance: a meta-analytic test of theoretically derived hypotheses.

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  • 1Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University, NY 13244-2450, USA.


Although many scholars and practitioners are interested in understanding how to motivate individuals to be more creative, whether and how rewards affect creativity remain unclear. We argue that the conflicting evidence may be due to differences between studies in terms of reward conditions and the context in which rewards are offered. Specifically, we examine 5 potential moderators of the rewards-creative performance relationship: (a) the reward contingency, (b) the extent to which participants are provided information about their past or current creative performance, (c) the extent to which the reward and context offer choice or impose control, (d) the extent to which the context serves to enhance task engagement, and (e) the extent to which the performance tasks are complex. Using random-effects models, we meta-analyzed 60 experimental and nonexperimental studies (including 69 independent samples) that examined the rewards-creativity relationship with children or adults. Our results suggest that creativity-contingent rewards tend to increase creative performance-and are more positively related to creative performance when individuals are given more positive, contingent, and task-focused performance feedback and are provided more choice (and are less controlled). In contrast, performance-contingent or completion-contingent rewards tend to have a slight negative effect on creative performance.

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