Creative mortification: An Initial exploration

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66 Scopus citations


Most people have experienced some form of creative suppression-sharing a unique and personally meaningful idea, insight, or product only to have it dismissed, ignored, or misunderstood. Some forms of creative suppression are more profound and can result in what is herein called "creative mortification." Creative mortification refers to the loss of one's willingness to pursue a particular creative aspiration following a negative performance outcome. This article reports on a two-part exploratory study that first examined factors associated with creative mortification and then identified factors that differentiate between mortifying versus motivating experiences in a sample of prospective teachers. In Part 1, participants (N = 99) were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 hypothetical negative feedback conditions (person-focused vs. process-focused) in which they were asked to imagine how they would respond to a negative performance outcome. Results of Part 1 indicate that experiencing negative self-conscious emotions, shame in particular, and attributing negative outcomes to one's fixed creative ability served as unique, significant predictors of creative mortification. In Part 2, participants (N = 99) were again randomly assigned to two sets of conditions, one aimed at eliciting descriptions of prior motivating experiences the other aimed at eliciting mortifying experiences. Results of Part 2 indicate that mortifying experiences were associated with a younger age of occurrence, negative self-conscious emotions, a desire to avoid reoccurrence of the experience, and fixed ability beliefs. Conversely, motivating experiences were associated with an older age of occurrence, a feeling of being wronged, a desire to confute, and a belief that improvement was possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-276
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Creative mortification
  • Creativity
  • Suppression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Applied Psychology


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