Creativity and Leisure: An Intercultural and Cross-disciplinary (CLICJ)

Volume 1 Number 2 (2012)

doi: 10.3850/S201046932012000275

Fostering Creativity in an Asian University: A Social Psychology Perspective

Beth A. Hennessey
Department of Psychology, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA 02481.


This paper explores many of the challenging questions faced by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and their colleagues in Singapore as they set out to establish a brand new university of technology and design dedicated to the promotion of student and faculty creativity. Investigations of the social psychology of creativity are reviewed, and it is arguedthat too little is known about the relation between the intrinsic motivation and creative performanceof individuals living and learning outside of the US and a handful of industrialized European nations. Researchers have yet to systematically explore the effect of environmental constraints on motivational orientation and creative performance in non-Western environments. The empirical research that has been carried out points to the strong possibility that existing social psychological theories and models designed to illuminate the creative process may not apply cross-culturally; and data gathered in a recent interviews with newly-hired faculty members in Singapore appear to corroborate this view. The case is made that if the construction of this university is to be successful, much more than a simple transfer of the MIT blueprint to a Singapore campus will be required. Countless layers of cross-national complexity surround this project and the expertise of psychologists will be needed to help to disentangle this web.

Keywords: Intrinsic motivation principle of creativity, Self determination theory, Killers of motivation (and creativity), Cross-cultural complexity.

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