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The influence of regulatory focus, expected evaluation, and goal orientation on cognitive processes related to creative problem solving

Anne E Herman, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Most research examining creative problem solving has focused solely on the generation of a solution to a problem. In contrast, this study explored multiple cognitive processes that influence creativity, namely problem construction, idea generation, and the evaluation of ideas generated by oneself and others. A primary goal of this study was to examine the influence of performance in problem construction on solution generation and the accuracy of evaluation of solutions to that same problem. An additional goal of this study was to investigate the influence of motivation on the creative problem solving process; as such, the role of expected evaluation, regulatory focus, and goal orientation on creativity were considered. Specifically, the influence of expecting evaluation from an outside source (expected evaluation), the frame or focus of an individual to approach the achievement of a positive outcome or to avoid the experience of a negative one (regulatory focus as both an enduring trait and a transitory state), and the tendency for an individual either to strive to achieve performance, avoid performance, or approach performance as an opportunity for learning (goal orientation) were also investigated. Previous research has shown relationships between expected evaluation, regulatory focus, Herman ii and goal orientation with idea generation, but the pattern of findings is somewhat inconsistent. In a sample of 219 participants, who were mostly full-time employees, those who generated higher quality and more original problem constructions generated higher quality and more original solutions to the problem. However, no relationship between problem construction and idea evaluation was evident. Participants who generated higher quality solutions were more accurate in evaluating the quality of their ideas; in contrast participants who generated more original solutions were less accurate in evaluating the originality of their ideas. Participants who evaluated their own ideas were less accurate in assessing the quality and originality of their ideas relative to participants who evaluated others’ ideas. Though expected evaluation was unrelated to with creativity in this study, both regulatory focus (trait and state) and goal orientation were related, with distinct patterns of relationships to the three cognitive creativity processes in this study. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Industrial

Recommended Citation

Herman, Anne E, "The influence of regulatory focus, expected evaluation, and goal orientation on cognitive processes related to creative problem solving" (2008). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3326860.