The enhancement and diminishment of humorous creativity

Constance Mary Reynolds, Fordham University


The present study was designed to assess the impact of direct motivational orientation manipulation on humorous creativity. 120 male introductory psychology students were asked to rank-order intrinsic or extrinsic reasons for participating in research or neutral themes. The effect of the induced motivational orientation on humorous creativity was assessed through the creation of humorous cartoon captions, which were then rated using Amabile's (1983a) consensual assessment technique. Results generally indicated that it was difficult to influence humorous creativity in this subject population, in either the positive or negative direction, by the direct method used. Although a direct manipulation check indicated that the subjects were in fact differentially influenced by the motivational orientation questionnaires, this influence was not, for the most part, reflected in the rated creativity and funniness of the subjects' products. The only significant result was a lower rated creativity in the Extrinsic group relative to the Control group. There were no significant differences between the Intrinsic and Control groups or between the Intrinsic and Extrinsic groups on rated creativity, nor among the three groups on rated funniness. As expected, the three groups did not differ significantly on rated technical excellence. The failure to obtain significant results suggests that the creation of humor may be a more difficult task than that of artistic or literary creativity. The subjects' low ego strength and low defensiveness, an unexpected result, may also have contributed to the inability to obtain positive results. The subject population did not seem to be one that was able to produce humorous and creative responses; the control group itself was low in rated creativity and rated funniness. Although the subjects seemed to have been influenced by the manipulation of motivational orientation, this influence may not have been expressed as the subjects were not able to be creative in general. A replication of this study using manifestly creative subjects would allow investigation of the contribution of these subject variables. The constraints of the experimental procedure may also have contributed to the lack of significant results. Further avenues of research are discussed.

Subject Area

Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Reynolds, Constance Mary, "The enhancement and diminishment of humorous creativity" (1988). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8818475.