Rewards and Creativity: Past, Present, and Future

Applied Psychology


Research on the effects of rewards on creativity has resulted in hundreds of empirical studies and several reviews of the reward–creativity relationship (RCR). Most reviews are retrospective in nature. They have quantitatively summarised and integrated previous research findings, but have largely overlooked the need for a theoretical framework to guide future research. The current systematic review of this literature intends to bridge this gap, based on the findings of 329 papers and book chapters. Our review summarises the theoretical developments in reward–creativity (RC) research, and classifies the literature in three distinct phases, i.e. the emergence of the cognitive perspective; behavioural rebuttal, and convergence. The paper identifies three important gaps in the existing RC literature: (1) the moderating effects of individual, group, organisational, and national-level factors; (2) the mediating role of cognitive and affective states; and (3) the lack of consideration of creativity as a multidimensional construct. Based on these gaps, the paper presents a four-factor framework to guide future RC research. It identifies potential moderators and mediators of the RCR, and draws attention to creativity as a multidimensional construct.