Can Being Extrinsically Motivated Reduce Creativity?

 It  may seem that entering writing contests may help you become a more
creative writer.  However, entering contests could make you more
extrinsically motivated.  Extrinsic motivation involves being motivated by
external factors such as money, awards, and praise.  Being extrinsically
motivated may undermine your ability to be creative.
  In Amabile's (1985) experiment, participants wrote two poems.  Before
writing the second poem, some of the people were given a questionnaire in
which they were asked to rank the importance of some reasons for writing.  
In one condition, these reasons reflected intrinsic motivation.  Intrinsic
motivation would involve interest and enjoyment in a creative task.   In
another condition, these reasons reflected extrinsic motivation.  In the control
condition, the people did not receive a questionnaire with reasons for writing.  
On the average, the poems in the control condition were judged to be more
creative than the poems in the extrinsic-orientation condition.   There was no
statistically significant diffenence between the control condition and the
intrinsic-orientation condition with respect to judged creativity.
    These findings have important practical implications.   Being motivated by
external factors could reduce one's ability to be creative.  It would be better to
be motivated by intrinsic factors (e.g. being interested in the task).


Amabile, T. M. (1985).  Motivation and creativity:  Effects of motivational
orientation on creative writers.  
Journal of Personality and Social
, 48, 393-399.