Mental set and creative thought in social conflict: Threat rigidity versus motivated focus

Carsten K. W. De Dreu*, Bernard A. Nijstad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

116 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

According to the traditional threat-rigidity reasoning, people in social conflict will be less flexible, less creative, more narrow-minded, and more rigid in their thinking when they adopt a conflict rather than a cooperation mental set. The authors propose and test an alternative, motivated focus account that better fits existing evidence. The authors report experimental results inconsistent with a threat-rigidity account, but supporting the idea that people focus their cognitive re sources on conflict-related material more when in a conflict rather than a cooperation mental set:. Disputants with a conflict (cooperation) set have broader (smaller) and more (less) inclusive cognitive categories when the domain of thought is (un)related to conflict (Experiment 1a-1b). Furthermore, they generate more, and more original competition tactics (Experiments 2 - 4), especially when they have low rather than high need for cognitive closure. Implications for conflict theory, for motivated information processing, and creativity research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)648-661
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume95
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep-2008

Keywords

  • creativity
  • conflict
  • information processing
  • motivation
  • rigidity
  • INDIVIDUAL-DIFFERENCES
  • VALUE ORIENTATION
  • DECISION-MAKING
  • INFORMATION
  • NEGOTIATION
  • NEED
  • CATEGORIZATION
  • COGNITION
  • BEHAVIOR
  • CLOSURE

Cite this