The effects of competition on improvisers' motivation, stress, and creative performance

Jacob Eisenberg*, William Forde Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    42 Citations (Scopus)


    We explored how competition affects the quality of musical improvisation, as well as the intrinsic motivation and stress reported by improvisers. Amateur musicians improvised on a keyboard in one of two conditions: induced competition and no competition. Employing the consensual assessment technique, improvisations were assessed for creativity and technical goodness by 10 expert judges. Findings indicate that improvisations were judged as more creative under competitive than non-competitive conditions. Moreover, improvisers in the competition condition were more intrinsically motivated, as well as more stressed, than improvisers in the no competition condition. The creativity and technical goodness dimensions of improvisations were positively related to each other. The findings are discussed in light of the intense debate over the effects of extrinsic motivators on intrinsic motivation and creativity and offer mechanisms through which competition may affect creative performance as well as discuss the role of stress in affecting motivation and creativity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)129-136
    Number of pages8
    JournalCreativity Research Journal
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


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