I study psychological determinants of interest in activities for their own sake and creativity with students, employees, and visitors to museums and parks. My recent research suggests that (a) there is a basic desire for pleasurable sights, sounds, and smells (need for sensory experience) whose magnitude differs from one individual to another, and (b) reward can be used effectively to increase perceived control over one’s actions, perceived competence, task enjoyment and creativity.

Below are some relevant articles by my colleagues and myself:


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Eisenberger, R., & Byron, K. (2011). Rewards and creativity. In M. A. Runco & S. R. Pritzker (Eds.). Encyclopedia of creativity, Second edition, vol. 2. Pp. 313-318. San Diego: Academic Press.
Eisenberger, R., Sucharski, I. L., Yalowitz, S., Kent, R. J., Loomis, R. J., Jones, J. R., Paylor, S., Aselage, J., Steiger Mueller, M., & McLauglin, J. P. (2010). The motive for sensory pleasure: Enjoyment of nature and its representation in painting, music, and literature. Journal of Personality, 78, 599-638.
Eisenberger, R., & Aselage, J. (In press). Incremental effects of reward on experienced performance pressure: Positive outcomes for intrinsic interest and creativity. Journal of Organizational Behavior.
Eisenberger, R., Jones, J. R., Stinglhamber, F., Shanock, L., & Tenglund, A. (2005). Optimal flow experiences at work: For high need achievers alone? Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26, 755-775.
Eisenberger, R., & Shanock, L. (2003). Rewards, Intrinsic Motivation, and Creativity: A Case Study of Conceptual and Methodological Isolation. Creativity Research Journal, 15, 121-130.
Eisenberger, R., & Rhoades, L. (2001). Incremental effects of reward on creativity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 728-741. (Award for the Best Paper on Organizational Behavior at the 2001 Academy of Management Conference).
Eisenberger, R., Pierce, W. D., & Cameron, J. (1999). Effects of reward on intrinsic motivation: Negative, neutral, and positive. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 677-691.
Eisenberger, R., Rhoades, L., & Cameron, J. (1999). Does pay for performance increase or decrease perceived self-determination and intrinsic motivation? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 1026-1040.
Eisenberger, R, Haskins, F., & Gambleton, P. (1999). Promised reward and creativity: Effects of prior experience. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 308-325.
Eisenberger, R., & Cameron, J. (1998). Rewards, intrinsic interest and creativity: New findings. American Psychologist, 53, 676-679.
Eisenberger, R., Armeli, S., & Pretz, J. (1998). Can the promise of reward increase creativity? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 704-714.
Eisenberger, R., & Armeli, S. (1997). Can Salient Reward Increase Creative Performance Without Reducing Intrinsic Creative Interest? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 652-663.
Eisenberger, R., & Cameron, J. (1996). Detrimental effects of reward: Reality or Myth? American Psychologist, 51, 1153-1166.
Eisenberger, R., & Selbst, M. (1994). Does reward increase or decrease creativity? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 1116-1127.