Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 491–503 | Cite as

Opportunity for creativity in the job as a moderator of the relation between trait intrinsic motivation and flow in work

Original Paper


Drawing from the social psychology approach to creativity, it was hypothesized that trait intrinsic motivation would be associated with the probability of experiencing flow in work, and that the extent to which a job provides opportunity for creativity would moderate the association. A sample of 367 workers completed the Flow Questionnaire and the Work Preference Inventory, and described their job. Multinomial logistic regression of “flow in work” versus “no flow” and “flow in leisure” revealed motivation by opportunity interactions such that intrinsic motivation is associated with flow in work for high opportunity, and is either not associated or negatively associated for low opportunity. The findings support the hypotheses and indicate that person-environment matching fosters flow in work.


Algorithmic task Creativity Flow Heuristic task Intrinsic motivation Leisure Work 


  1. Allport, G. (1961). Pattern and growth in personality. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  2. Amabile, T. M. (1979). Effects of external evaluation on artistic creativity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 221–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Amabile, T. M. (1982). Social psychology of creativity: A consensual assessment technique. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43, 997–1013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Amabile, T. M. (1996). Creativity in context. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  5. Amabile, T. M., Hill, K. G., Hennessey, B. A., & Tighe, E. (1994). The work preference inventory: Assessing intrinsic and extrinsic motivational orientations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 950–967.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Amabile, T. M., Conti, R., Coon, H., Lazenby, J., & Herron, M. (1996). Assessing the work environment for creativity. Academy of Management Journal, 39, 1154–1184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. New York, NY: Harper & Collins.Google Scholar
  8. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Beyond boredom and anxiety: Experiencing flow in work and play (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.Google Scholar
  9. Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Csikszentmihalyi, I. (1988). Optimal experience: Psychological studies of flow in consciousness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Csikszentmihalyi, M., Rathunde, K., & Whalen, S. (1993). Talented teenagers: A longitudinal study of their development. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York, NY: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  12. Delle Fave, A., & Massimini, F. (2003). Optimal experience in work and leisure among teachers and physicians: Individual and bio-cultural implications. Leisure Studies, 22, 323–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Engeser, S., & Schiepe-Tiska, A. (in press). Historical lines and an overview of current research. In S. Engeser (Ed.), Advances in flow research. Springer.Google Scholar
  14. Hayes, A. F., & Matthes, J. (2009). Computational procedures for probing interactions in OLS and logistic regression: SPSS and SAS implementations. Behavior Research Methods, 41, 924–936.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jackson, S. A., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1999). Flow in sports: The keys to optimal experiences and performances. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.Google Scholar
  16. Jackson, S. A., & Eklund, R. C. (2002). Assessing flow in physical activity: The flow state scale-2 and dispositional flow scale-2. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 24, 133–150.Google Scholar
  17. Kristof-Brown, A. L., Zimmerman, R. D., & Johnson, E. C. (2005). Consequences of individuals’ fit at work: a meta-analysis of person-job, person-organization, person-group, and person-supervisor fit. Personnel Psychology, 58, 281–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal and coping. New York, NY: Springer.Google Scholar
  19. Mainemmelis, C. (2001). When the muse takes it all: A model of timelessness in organisations. Academy of Management Review, 28, 548–565.Google Scholar
  20. Massimini, F., Inghilleri, P., & Delle Fave, A. (Eds.). (1996). La selezione psicologica umana [Human Psychological Selection]. Milan, Italy: Cooperativa Libraria IULM.Google Scholar
  21. McClelland, D. C. (1985). Human motivation. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman.Google Scholar
  22. McCullers, J. C., & Martin, J. A. G. (1971). A reexamination of the role of incentive in children’s discrimination learning. Child Development, 42, 827–837.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Moneta, G. B. (in press). On the measurement and conceptualization of flow. In S. Engeser (Ed.), Advances in flow research. Springer.Google Scholar
  24. Moneta, G. B., & Spada, M. M. (2009). Coping as a mediator of the relationships between trait intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and approaches to studying during academic exam preparation. Personality and Individual Differences, 46, 664–669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Quinn, R. W. (2005). Flow in knowledge work: High performance experience in the design of national security technology. Administrative Science Quarterly, 50, 610–641.Google Scholar
  26. Rheinberg, F. (2008). Intrinsic motivation and flow-experience. In H. Heckhausen & J. Heckhausen (Eds.), Motivation and action (pp. 323–348). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68–78.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Salanova, M., Bakker, A. B., & Llorens, S. (2006). Flow at work: Evidence for an upward spiral of personal and organizational resources. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Life Sciences, School of PsychologyLondon Metropolitan UniversityLondonUK

Personalised recommendations