Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 147–157 | Cite as

How expected evaluation influences creativity: Regulatory focus as moderator

  • Jia Wang
  • Ling WangEmail author
  • Ru-De Liu
  • Hui-Zhen Dong
Original Paper


Two studies investigated the effect of expected evaluation and regulatory focus on individuals’ creative performance. In both studies, first, the type of evaluation (informational versus controlling) was manipulated, and then regulatory focus was measured as an individual difference (in Study 1) or induced as a state using a pencil-and-paper maze task (in Study 2). Results provided evidence that participants who expect an informational evaluation were more likely to adopt an eager strategy; whereas participants who expected a controlling evaluation were more likely to adopt a vigilant strategy. Furthermore, participants in promotion-informational and prevention-controlling groups (regulatory fit conditions) performed more creatively than those in promotion-controlling and prevention-informational groups (regulatory non-fit conditions). In sum, the present findings contribute to a better understanding of how external evaluations and basic motivational orientations influence creative performance.


Expected evaluation Regulatory focus Regulatory fit Creativity 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


  1. Amabile, T. M. (1979). Effects of external evaluation on artistic creativity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37(2), 221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Amabile, T. M. (1983). The social psychology of creativity. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Amabile, T. M., & Gryskiewicz, S. (1987). Creativity in the R & D laboratory (Tech. Rep. No. 30). Greensboro, NC: Center for Creative Leadership.Google Scholar
  4. Avnet, T., & Higgins, E. T. (2003). Locomotion, assessment, and regulatory fit: Value transfer from “how” to “what”. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 39(5), 525–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baas, M., De Dreu, C. K., & Nijstad, B. A. (2011). When prevention promotes creativity: The role of mood, regulatory focus, and regulatory closure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(5), 794–809.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Bartis, S., Szymanski, K., & Harkins, S. G. (1988). Evaluation and performance a two-edged knife. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 14(2), 242–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cesario, J., & Higgins, E. T. (2008). Making message recipients “feel right” how nonverbal cues can increase persuasion. Psychological Science, 19(5), 415–420.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Cesario, J., Higgins, E. T., & Scholer, A. A. (2008). Regulatory fit and persuasion: Basic principles and remaining questions. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2(1), 444–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chernev, A. (2004). Goal-attribute compatibility in consumer choice. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 14(1), 141–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dawson, J. F., & Richter, A. W. (2006). Probing three-way interactions in moderated multiple regression: Development and application of a slope difference test. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91, 917–926.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1980). The empirical exploration of intrinsic motivational processes. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 13, pp. 39–80). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  12. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ding, X. Q., Tang, Y. Y., Tang, R. X., & Posner, M. I. (2014). Improving creativity performance by short-term meditation. Behavioral and Brain Functions, 10(9), 1–8.Google Scholar
  14. Förster, J., Higgins, E. T., & Idson, L. C. (1998). Approach and avoidance strength during goal attainment: Regulatory focus and the” goal looms larger” effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(5), 1115.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Friedman, R. S., & Förster, J. (2001). The effects of promotion and prevention cues on creativity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(6), 1001–1013.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Gino, F., & Margolis, J. D. (2011). Bringing ethics into focus: How regulatory focus and risk preferences influence (un) ethical behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 115(2), 145–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hamstra, M. R., Van Yperen, N. W., Wisse, B., & Sassenberg, K. (2013). Like or dislike: Intrapersonal regulatory fit affects the intensity of interpersonal evaluation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49(4), 726–731.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Haws, K., Dholakia, U., & Bearden, W. O. (2010). An assessment of chronic regulatory focus measures. Journal of Marketing Research, 47, 967–982.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Herman, A., & Reiter-Palmon, R. (2011). The effect of regulatory focus on idea generation and idea evaluation. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 5(1), 13–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Herman, A. E. (2008). The influence of regulatory focus, expected evaluation, and goal orientation on cognitive processes related to creative problem solving. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, University of Nebraska.Google Scholar
  21. Higgins, E. T. (1997). Beyond pleasure and pain. American Psychologist, 52, 1280–1300.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Higgins, E. T. (1998). Promotion and prevention: Regulatory focus as a motivational principle. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 30, 1–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Higgins, E. T. (2000). Making a good decision: Value from fit. American Psychologist, 55(11), 1217–1230.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Higgins, E. T. (2005). Value from regulatory fit. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14(4), 209–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Higgins, E. T., Friedman, R. S., Harlow, R. E., Idson, L. C., Ayduk, O. N., & Taylor, A. (2001). Achievement orientations from subjective histories of success: Promotion pride versus prevention pride. European Journal of Social Psychology, 31, 3–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Higgins, E. T., Idson, L. C., Freitas, A. L., Spiegel, S., & Molden, D. C. (2003). Transfer of value from fit. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(6), 1140–1153.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Idson, L. C., Liberman, N., & Higgins, E. T. (2004). Imagining how you’d feel: The role of motivational experiences from regulatory fit. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30(7), 926–937.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Keller, J., & Bless, H. (2006). Regulatory fit and cognitive performance: The interactive effect of chronic and situationally induced self-regulatory mechanisms on test performance. European Journal of Social Psychology, 36(3), 393–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kim, K. H., Lee, H. E., Chae, K.-B., Anderson, L., & Laurence, C. (2011). Creativity and Confucianism among American and Korean educators. Creativity Research Journal, 23(4), 357–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kim, K. H., & VanTassel-Baska, J. (2010). The relationship between creativity and behavior problems among underachieving elementary and high school students. Creativity Research Journal, 22(2), 185–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lam, T. W. H., & Chiu, C. Y. (2002). The motivational function of regulatory focus in creativity. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 36(2), 138–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mednick, S. A. (1962). The associative basis of the creative process. Psychological Review, 69, 220–232.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Otto, A. R., Markman, A. B., Gureckis, T. M., & Love, B. C. (2010). Regulatory fit and systematic exploration in a dynamic decision-making environment. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 36(3), 797.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Qu, X. J., & Shi, J. N. (2005). Evaluation and reward effect on verbal creativity of field dependent-independent children. Chinese Mental Health Journal, 6, 749–753.Google Scholar
  35. Runco, M. A., Illies, J. J., & Eisenman, R. (2005). Creativity, originality, and appropriateness: What do explicit instructions tell us about their relationships? Journal of Creative Behavior, 39, 137–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Scibinetti, P., Tocci, N., & Pesce, C. (2011). Motor creativity and creative thinking in children: The diverging role of inhibition. Creativity Research Journal, 23(3), 262–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Shah, J., Higgins, T., & Friedman, R. S. (1998). Performance incentives and means: How regulatory focus influences goal attainment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 285–293.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Shalley, C. E. (1995). Effects of coaction, expected evaluation, and goal setting on creativity and productivity. Academy of Management Journal, 38(2), 483–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Shalley, C. E., & Oldham, G. R. (1985). Effects of goal difficulty and expected external evaluation on intrinsic motivation: A laboratory study. Academy of Management Journal, 28(3), 628–640.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Shalley, C. E., & Perry-Smith, J. E. (2001). Effects of social-psychological factors on creative performance: The role of informational and controlling expected evaluation and modeling experience. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 84(1), 1–22.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Smeltz, W., & Cross, B. (1984). Toward a profile of the creative R & D professional. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, EM-31, 22–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Spiegel, S., Grant-Pillow, H., & Higgins, E. T. (2004). How regulatory fit enhances motivational strength during goal pursuit. European Journal of Social Psychology, 34(1), 39–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Torrance, E. P. (1966). The Torrance tests of creative thinking-norms-technical manual research edition-verbal tests, forms A and B-figural tests, forms A and B. Princeton, NJ: Personnel Press.Google Scholar
  44. Torrance, E. P. (1974). Torrance tests of creative thinking: Norms and technical manual. Bensenville, IL: Scholostic Testing Services.Google Scholar
  45. Wechsler, S. M., Vendramini, C. M. M., & Oakland, T. (2012). Thinking and creative styles: A validity study. Creativity Research Journal, 24(2–3), 235–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Werth, L., & Förster, J. (2007). The effects of regulatory focus on braking speed 1. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 37(12), 2764–2787.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wu, J. J., Gao, C. F., Wang, J. Y., & Ding, S. S. (1981). Torrance tests of creative thinking: Figural form A (in Chinese). Taibei: Yuan Liu Press.Google Scholar
  48. Yuan, F., & Zhou, J. (2008). Differential effects of expected external evaluation on different parts of the creative idea production process and on final product creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 20(4), 391–403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Beijing Key Laboratory of Applied Experimental Psychology, School of PsychologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Beijing Key Laboratory of Learning and Cognition, Department of PsychologyCapital Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Beijing Siyuan Xingye Real Estate Brokerage Co., Ltd.BeijingChina

Personalised recommendations