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Schemata Violation Increases Creative Cognition: the When and How (CREA.TA)
Start date: Sep 1, 2014, End date: Aug 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"One of the key outcomes of the recent economic and political transformations in Europe is that people are more and more mobile: they move countries, change professions and challenge old power relations. In doing so, they increase the diversity and complexity of social structures to new heights. For instance, more often we see women embracing positions of power (e.g., Angela Merkel, the female chancellor of Germany), employees living and working outside their country of birth (e.g., Poles work in Germany, and Brits retire in Spain), and previously “invisible” minorities embracing roles and positions that they had previously been barred from (e.g., Paralympics competitors). From a psychological point of view, instances like this violate peoples’ schemata – generalized mental structures used to store information and make predictions about the world. This increased complexity in the organization of societies, and the schemata-violation that comes with it, could have profound consequences to creativity and innovation. Building on preliminary findings from the RF's PhD and postdoctoral work, we present a theoretical model explaining when and how schemata-violation increases creativity. We propose nine experiments to systematically test the idea that the relationship between schemata-violation and creative cognition is mediated by approach and avoidance motivation, contingent upon individuals’ epistemic motivation. We argue that whether individuals want to approach or avoid the schemata-violating stimuli is crucial to creativity outcomes. The main objective of the fellowship is to test the above theoretical model, and to train the RF in the theories and measurement of approach and avoidance motivation. Excellent training and research facilities at the University of Rochester (outgoing phase, with Prof. Elliot) and the University of Amsterdam (return phase, with Prof. De Dreu) will ensure a successful execution of this project."
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