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Title:Engaging in creative tasks: An inquiry into implications for donation behavior and significance of behavioral intentions
Author(s):Xu, Lidan
Director of Research:Mehta, Ravi
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Mehta, Ravi
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Dahl, Darren W.; Shavitt, Sharon; Torelli, Carlos; Williamson, Michael
Department / Program:Business Administration
Discipline:Business Administration
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:Creativity plays an important role in our everyday life, and is ubiquitous in our consumption environment. Consumers regularly encounter tasks that require creativity, from identifying a new way to prepare a meal, deciding on a furniture arrangement for a new house, choosing an original birthday gift for a friend, or making up a bedtime story for a child. Companies are increasingly engaging consumers’ creativity through crowdsourcing platforms (;; kickstarter, etc.), customization opportunities (NikeID, Casetify customized phone cases, etc.), and products that are designed to assist consumers in being creative (e.g., adult coloring books, arts, and crafts). Not only creativity is prevalent in our consumption environment, but also is one of the most important forces that drives the technological development, scientific progress, and societal advancement. Given the importance and ubiquity of creativity, it is important to understand creativity in a systematic and comprehensive way, and understand both the antecedents that enhance creativity and its downstream implications. In the first essay of my dissertation, I explore an important social implication of creative engagement –donation behavior. I propose and demonstrate that engaging in creative tasks activates an expansive mindset, which within the context of donation behavior, manifests as social and moral expansiveness that in turn leads to higher monetary donation. Further, I find that such effect of creative engagement on monetary donation holds only when the creative task is divergent in nature. When the creative task is convergent in nature, the activation of expansive mindset is attenuated, thereby impeding expansion of social and moral circle and hence monetary donation. This essay thus demonstrates that not only being creative in itself is desirable, engaging in creative tasks can have important positive implications for our society and can lead to positive social behaviors, such as monetary donation. Ironically, however, being benevolent may not be the best source for generating creative ideas. In the second essay of my dissertation, I examine the effect of malevolent versus benevolent intentions on creativity. I argue that having malevolent, as compared to benevolent, intentions while engaging in creative tasks induces perceptions of a grandiose sense of self, which in turn motivates one to stand out and be different from others in order to maintain such self-image, leading to higher creativity. This essay thus proposes that one’s intentions while engaging in creative tasks can have significant implications for the quality and originality of the ideas generated. The findings from the two essays make important contributions to the creativity literature. The first essay contributes to the emerging literature that explores the downstream implications of creativity, and shows that engaging in creative tasks can have significant positive impact on social behaviors, such as donation behavior. In addition, it directly contributes to the creativity literature by demonstrating that while both divergent and convergent creative thinking can produce creative output, the underlying cognitive processes differ and can have differential implications depending on the context under study. The second essay, advances prior research that has primarily focuses on examining various aspects of creativity in general or benevolent creativity in particular, In this essay, I explore the concept of malevolent creativity (i.e., creativity that is intended to hurt others) and find that, ironically, having malevolent intentions trump the benevolent intentions within the context of creative generation. Thus, this essay not only proposes a novel and important factor that facilitates creative thinking but also directly contrasts the effect of having benevolent and malevolent intentions on creativity.
Issue Date:2018-04-18
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 Lidan Xu
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-09-04
Date Deposited:2018-05

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