Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 478–482

The creative spark of death: The effects of mortality salience and personal need for structure on creativity

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11031-011-9274-1

Cite this article as:
Routledge, C. & Juhl, J. Motiv Emot (2012) 36: 478. doi:10.1007/s11031-011-9274-1


Previous research indicates that the awareness of death can be a barrier to creative expression. Specifically, when mortality is rendered salient, creativity is inhibited. However, no studies have considered how individual differences may impact the effect of mortality salience on creativity. Past research has found that mortality salience increases explorative thought processes for individuals low in personal need for structure. Thus, for these people, mortality salience may increase, not decrease, creativity. The current study examined this possibility. Personal need for structure was measured, mortality salience was experimentally manipulated, and creativity was assessed. As predicted, mortality salience increased creativity amongst individuals low in personal need for structure. No effect of mortality salience was observed amongst individuals high in personal need for structure.


Terror management Creativity Personal need for structure 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNorth Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA

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