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Creativity in Men and Women: Threat, Other-Interest, and Self-Assessment
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Previous research into gender and creativity has provided little evidence for consistent differences between men and women in creative performance. This research revisits this topic by proposing a person x situation approach, arguing that gender differences in creative performance only occur in certain contexts, but not others. Based on the assumption that men and women tend to differ in self versus other orientation, experimental instructions varied whether our participants' (n=169) creative efforts benefit the self or others, and whether creativity occurred under conditions of threat or not. In the absence of threat, women outperformed men in the originality of their creative efforts when the task was beneficial to others. This effect was eliminated in the presence of competitive threat. In contrast to some previous work, threat also increased creative performance under some circumstances. Results also revealed gender differences in self-assessment of creativity such that women seemed to be somewhat more attuned to the objective level of the originality of their creative performance than men. The discussion focuses on implications for research on gender differences in creativity, arguing that researchers must appreciate that gender differences in creativity, so far as they exist, are likely embedded in specific situational contexts.