Feeling differently, creating together: Affect heterogeneity and creativity in project teams

March L. To*, Cynthia D. Fisher, Neal M. Ashkanasy, Jing Zhou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Differently valenced affective states stimulate different information search and processing styles. Dual-tuning theory suggests that in combination, the styles tuned by positive affect (broad information search and flexible thinking) and by negative affect (persistent detailed search and critical thinking) facilitate creativity better than a single affect alone. Through this lens, we argue that the simultaneous presence of team members experiencing differently valenced affective states (affect heterogeneity) may facilitate team creativity by providing access to more varied information and perspectives. To extract creative benefit from these enhanced informational resources, teams must engage in an information exchange and elaboration process. However, affect heterogeneity may also threaten this process. We suggest that effective information exchange and elaboration is more likely to occur when the team has a well-developed transactive memory system to legitimize and coordinate the differences flowing from affect heterogeneity among members. We tested our hypotheses among 59 teams in a within-team design in which we measured team affect heterogeneity, information exchange and elaboration, and creativity in each of 4 weeks of a 13-week project. Results supported our hypotheses, including the mediating role of information exchange and elaboration, and the moderating role of team transactive memory system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1228-1243
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue number9
Early online date10 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


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