Power increases situated creativity

Sarah J. Gervais, Ana Guinote, Jill Allen, Letitia Slabu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The present paper examined whether power was linked with situated creativity. We proposed that powerful (vs powerless) people engage in creative thought when creativity contributes to contextual goals but avoid creative thought when creativity impedes contextual goals. Extending the Situated Focus Theory of Power (Guinote, 2007a; 2010) to creativity, we suggested that powerful people are better able to achieve situational goals because they can flexibly focus on cues that indicate what is required for success in a given context. Across three experiments, we found that powerful (vs powerless) people engaged in more creative thinking when creativity facilitated contextual goals. This was not the case when creativity hindered contextual goals. Further, neither affect (Experiment 2) nor effort (Experiments 1 and 3) contributed to these effects. However, local processing undermined creativity for powerful people, indicating that processing style may contribute to the link between power and situated creativity. These findings suggest that powerful people flexibly vary creativity in line with the situation. This research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation awarded to Sarah J. Gervais and Theresa K. Vescio for dissertation enhancement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-311
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Influence
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013


  • Creativity
  • Global processing
  • Goals
  • Power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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