Linking Self-Construal to Creativity: The Role of Approach Motivation and Cognitive Flexibility

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While some evidence has linked the way individuals define themselves in relation to others (independent versus interdependent self-construal) to creativity, little is known about the underlying mechanism in explaining why and how self-construal influences creativity. Integrating approach-avoidance motivation theory and the dual pathway to creativity model, this research focuses on the motivational and cognitive mechanisms that transfer the effects of self-construal on creativity. Specifically, we expect that independent self-construal is a driver of creativity because it facilitates individuals’ approach motivation, which in turn increases flexible information processing. To test the three-stage mediation model, one experiment and one cross- national survey were conducted. In Study 1, in a sample of 236 Dutch students, self-construal was manipulated by a story-writing task; approach- avoidance motivation, cognitive flexibility and creativity were measured. Results of Study 1 showed that approach motivation and cognitive flexibility together mediated the effects of self-construal on creativity. In Study 2, self- construal, approach (and avoidance) motivation, cognitive flexibility and creativity were all measured in a Dutch (147 students) and a Chinese sample (63 students). The results of Study 2 supported the three-stage mediation model in the Dutch sample but not the Chinese sample. Limitations and implications for future research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventAcademy of Management Conference : Making Organizations Meaningful - California, Anaheim, United States
Duration: 5-Aug-20169-Aug-2016


  • self-construal
  • creativity
  • approach motivation

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