When prevention promotes creativity: the role of mood, regulatory focus, and regulatory closure.J Pers Soc Psychol 2011; 100(5):794-809JP
Promotion-focused states generally boost creativity because they associate with enhanced activation and cognitive flexibility. With regard to prevention-focused states, research evidence is less consistent, with some findings suggesting prevention-focused states promote creativity and other findings pointing to no or even negative effects. We proposed and tested the hypothesis that whether prevention-focused states boost creativity depends on regulatory closure (whether a goal is fulfilled or not). We predicted that prevention-focused states that activate the individual (unfulfilled prevention goals, fear) would lead to similar levels of creativity as promotion-focused states but that prevention-focused states that deactivate (closed prevention goals, relief) would lead to lower levels of creativity. Moreover, we predicted that this effect would be mediated by feelings of activation. Predictions were tested in 3 studies on creative insights and 1 on original ideation. Results supported predictions. Implications for self-regulation, motivation, mood, and creativity are discussed.