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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring the role of external rewards in creative cognition Mehta, Ravi Prakash


Existing research examining the effects of external rewards on creativity lacks a clear consensus on the issue. While some research suggests that monetary (versus social) rewards are detrimental to creativity, other research has found that monetary rewards can enhance creative performance. These disparate findings seem to stem from extant literature’s lack of focus on cognitive processes through which external rewards affect creativity. In this dissertation I model the location and movement of ideas in an individual’s mental space and demonstrate that social rewards prompt a broader idea exploration leading to higher creativity. However, if a specific goal to be creative is made salient, focused idea exploration as induced by monetary rewards leads to even higher creativity.

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