Effects of optimism on creativity under approach and avoidance motivation

Tamar Icekson, Marieke Roskes, Simone Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Focusing on avoiding failure or negative outcomes (avoidance motivation) can undermine creativity, due to cognitive (e.g., threat appraisals), affective (e.g., anxiety), and volitional processes (e.g., low intrinsic motivation). This can be problematic for people who are avoidance motivated by nature and in situations in which threats or potential losses are salient. Here, we review the relation between avoidance motivation and creativity, and the processes underlying this relation. We highlight the role of optimism as a potential remedy for the creativity undermining effects of avoidance motivation, due to its impact on the underlying processes. Optimism, expecting to succeed in achieving success or avoiding failure, may reduce negative effects of avoidance motivation, as it eases threat appraisals, anxiety, and disengagement-barriers playing a key role in undermining creativity. People experience these barriers more under avoidance than under approach motivation, and beneficial effects of optimism should therefore be more pronounced under avoidance than approach motivation. Moreover, due to their eagerness, approach motivated people may even be more prone to unrealistic over-optimism and its negative consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue number1 FEB
StatePublished - 28 Feb 2014


  • Approach
  • Avoidance
  • Creativity
  • Motivation
  • Optimism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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