How Multiple Social Identities Are Related to Creativity

Niklas K. Steffens, Małgorzata A. Gocłowska, Tegan Cruwys, Adam D. Galinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (SciVal)


The present research examined whether possessing multiple social identities (i.e., groups relevant to one’s sense of self) is associated with creativity. In Study 1, the more identities individuals reported having, the more names they generated for a new commercial product (i.e., greater idea fluency). In Study 2, multiple identities were associated with greater fluency and originality (mediated by cognitive flexibility, but not by persistence). Study 3 validated these findings using a highly powered sample. We again found that multiple identities increase fluency and originality, and that flexibility (but not persistence) mediated the effect on originality. Study 3 also ruled out several alternative explanations (self-affirmation, novelty seeking, and generalized persistence). Across all studies, the findings were robust to controlling for personality, and there was no evidence of a curvilinear relationship between multiple identities and creativity. These results suggest that possessing multiple social identities is associated with enhanced creativity via cognitive flexibility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-203
Number of pages16
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number2
Early online date7 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


  • creativity
  • fluency
  • identity
  • self-categorization
  • social identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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