Purdue University Graduate School
Keith PhD 2019.pdf (449.83 kB)

Tell me what to do not how to do it: Influence of creativity goals and process goals on intrinsic motivation and creative performance

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posted on 2019-06-10, 18:32 authored by Melissa G KeithMelissa G Keith

Previous research has identified creativity goals and process goals as two contextual interventions for enhancing creativity in the workplace. Whereas creativity goals direct attention and effort toward outcomes that are both novel and useful, process goals direct attention and effort toward the creative process – behaviors and cognitions intended to enhance creative outcomes. The current research draws from past research and theory on goals and intrinsic motivation to explain how creativity goals and process goals influence creative performance, and perhaps more importantly, why. Specifically, I suggest that creativity goals have a direct, positive relationship with creative performance; however, process goals have an indirect, positive relationship with creative performance through creative process engagement. Additionally, specificity has the ability to focus attention on relevant processes and outcomes within the creativity criterion space. While specific creativity goals are predicted to direct attention toward desirable solutions without thwarting needs for autonomy, specific (i.e., structured) process goals may thwart autonomy perceptions, resulting in lower levels of intrinsic motivation, and ultimately creative performance. The hypotheses proposed were examined in a sample of 560 undergraduate students utilizing a 3 (creativity goals: specific, general, and no goal) x 3 (process goals: structured, semi-structured, and no goals) between-subjects experimental design. Results revealed creativity goals, particularly specific creativity goals, have a direct positive influence on creative performance. Process goals have an indirect positive relationship on creative performance through creative process engagement. Moreover, process goals have a negative impact on perceptions of autonomy, which in turn negatively impacts creative performance by reducing intrinsic motivation. The specific creativity goal had the strongest effects and appears to be an effective way to enhance both creative process engagement and creative performance. Taken together, these findings suggest that goals are a tenable means of enhancing creative performance; however, care should be taken to reduce adverse consequences for autonomy perceptions.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Psychological Sciences

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Carolyn Jagacinski

Additional Committee Member 2

Sang Eun Woo

Additional Committee Member 3

Louis Tay

Additional Committee Member 4

Thomas Redick