Whether social schema violations help or hurt creativity depends on need for structure

Małgorzata A. Gocłowska, Matthijs Baas, Richard J. Crisp, Carsten K.W. de Dreu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)959-971
Number of pages13
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number8
Early online date29 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2014


  • information processing
  • innovation
  • motivation
  • social diversity
  • stereotypes


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