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Is Task Autonomy Beneficial For Creativity? Prior Task Experience And Self-Control As Boundary Conditions

Jin Wook Chang, Devin Wende Huang, Jin Nam Choi

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In this study we elaborate on the autonomy–creativity relationship by identifying potential boundary conditions. Specifically, we hypothesized that when task autonomy is provided people's reactions are shaped by the level of their prior experience or skills and by whether or not they have previously worked on a task autonomously. We further hypothesized that self-control would moderate the autonomy–creativity link. The analysis of data collected from 148 individuals who completed 2 sets of creativity tasks under different task conditions revealed that task autonomy reduces creative performance when there is no prior task-relevant experience. Individuals with high self-control showed similar levels of creativity regardless of the level of task autonomy. In contrast, those with low self-control performed more creatively under a no autonomy condition than under an autonomy condition. Our findings highlight the need for considering various boundary conditions when considering changes in the effects of task autonomy on creativity.