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Resting on your laurels: The effects of pride on persistence at creative tasks


Despite the pervasive use of pride as a motivational tool in organizations, little is known about the effects of pride experience on work performance. This paper investigates how pride affects performance at creative tasks compared to other positive emotions. Although pride has been linked to increased perseverance (Williams & DeSteno, 2008), I hypothesize that experiencing pride can lead to less persistence on unrelated creativity task because by affirming one's self-worth, feeling pride satisfies the need to prove one's value and reduces the perceived importance of the task. Study 1 found that people high in trait pride significantly persisted less on unsolvable anagram tasks than people low in trait pride. Study 2 found that people who experienced state pride persisted less on a brainstorming task compared to people feeling compassion and amusement. Study 3 examined if the negative relationship between pride and persistence holds even when the task is threatening to one's pride so its importance cannot be trivialized. Under low threat, people feeling pride persisted less than people feeling amused, but under high threat, people feeling pride persisted significantly more than those feeling amused. These studies demonstrate that pride doesn't always enhance persistence and therefore managers should frame a task as being relevant and threatening to the employee's pride when using pride to promote performance.

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