Although people and events that disconfirm observers' expectancies can increase their creativity, sometimes such social schema violations increase observers' rigidity of thought and undermine creative cognition. Here we examined whether individual differences in the extent to which people prefer structure and predictability determine whether social schema violations facilitate or hamper creativity. Participants in Study 1 formed impressions of a schema-inconsistent female mechanic (vs. a schema-consistent male mechanic). Following schema-inconsistent rather than -consistent information, participants low (high) in need for structure showed better (impeded) creative performance. Participants in Study 2 memorized a series of images in which individuals were placed on a schema-inconsistent (vs. consistent) background (e.g., an Eskimo on the desert vs. on a snowy landscape). Following schema-inconsistent imagery, participants low (high) in need for structure increased (decreased) divergent thinking.
- information processing
- social diversity