Examining extension: is inspiration motivational in novel contexts?
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 03:10 authored by Jack Klein
Inspiration has long been explored in art and literature, often taking on a supernatural or mythic tone. However, despite its widespread appeal, the processes underlying inspiration have eluded rigorous scientific investigation until recently. One such untested process is the concept of novel-context extension, which refers to the motivational effect of inspirational content in an unrelated domain (e.g. after perceiving an artist’s incredible work-ethic a student becomes inspired to persevere with school work). The primary aim of this thesis is hence to determine if an inspirational message concerning one domain (academia or creativity) can improve performance in an unrelated domain (physical endurance). In Experiment 1 participants (N=64) completed an initial baseline handgrip task and personality questionnaires before writing about a time they felt either (a) inspired in a sporting context (inspiration-related), (b) inspired in an academic context (inspiration-unrelated), or (c) happy in a context unrelated to success or achievement (control). Participants then completed manipulation checks and a second handgrip test. Results indicated that only the inspiration-related condition successfully elicited inspiration, and found no significant differences between the conditions on handgrip performance. Experiment 2 (N=70) addressed methodological issues by altering the writing topics for the inspiration-unrelated (a time you felt inspired in a creative context) and control (a time you felt amused) conditions, and revising the handgrip task. Analyses indicated that both inspiration conditions successfully elicited inspiration. Although handgrip performance again did not differ between conditions, participants in the inspiration conditions were significantly less likely to give up at the task. Overall, these findings provide preliminary support for novel-context extension and have implications in a sporting context.