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Emotional Intelligence and Creativity: The Mediating Role of Generosity and Vigor

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This study examines whether and why emotional intelligence may result in enhanced creativity in the workplace. Using a time-lagged data set collected from employees in three firms, we examined a mediation model where emotional intelligence is indirectly related to creativity serially, through generosity and vigor. The results of structural equation modeling (SEM) indicate a sequential mediation model where emotionally intelligent employees display a high level of generosity; these acts of generosity nurture a sense of vigor, which in turn fosters creative behaviors. We discuss the implications for research on emotional intelligence, generosity, vigor, and creativity.
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ABRAHAM CARMELI
ALEXANDER S. MCKAY
JAMES C. KAUFMAN
Emotional Intelligence and Creativity: The
Mediating Role of Generosity and Vigor
ABSTRACT
This study examines whether and why emotional intelligence may result in
enhanced creativity in the workplace. Using a time-lagged data set collected from
employees in three firms, we examined a mediation model where emotional intelli-
gence is indirectly related to creativity serially, through generosity and vigor. The
results of structural equation modeling (SEM) indicate a sequential mediation model
where emotionally intelligent employees display a high level of generosity; these acts of
generosity nurture a sense of vigor, which in turn fosters creative behaviors. We
discuss the implications for research on emotional intelligence, generosity, vigor, and
creativity.
Keywords: emotional intelligence, creativity, generosity, vigor, positive emotions.
In the last two decades, emotional intelligence (EI) has attracted substantial
research interest in a variety of fields (Joseph & Newman, 2010; O’Boyle, Humphrey,
Pollack, Hawver, & Story, 2011). This increased interest had been driven primarily
by the argument that EI may be uniquely suited to account for variation in individ-
ual behaviors and outcomes. For example, findings suggest that emotionally astute
individuals show greater social functioning (Brackett, Rivers, Shiffman, Lerner, &
Salovey, 2006), are less engaged in conflictual behavior, more capable of managing
stress, and achieve higher job performance (Ashkanasy & Daus, 2005; Lopes, Grewal,
Kadis, Gall, & Salovey, 2006; Mayer, Roberts, & Barsade, 2008).
However, a review of the literature indicates that the correlation between EI and
job outcomes, although positive and statistically significant, is not very strong. For
example, a recent meta-analytic review reported a correlation of .28 between EI and
performance, suggesting that there is a need to explore potential intervening
variables (O’Boyle et al., 2011, p. 797).
Further, while research attention had directed to the influence of EI on individual
behaviors and performance, much less work has been done to explore the links
between EI and creativity (Joseph & Newman, 2010; O’Boyle et al., 2011). This is
1The Journal of Creative Behavior, Vol. 0, Iss. 0, pp. 1–21 ©2013 by the Creative Education Foundation, Inc. ÓDOI: 10.1002/jocb.53
unfortunate for several reasons. Both EI and creativity are typically included in the
pantheon of character strengths and virtues (cf. Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Yet,
little has been done to examine why and how EI may facilitate creative behaviors.
Salovey and Mayer’s (1990) conceptualization and subsequent integrative models of
EI (Caruso, Mayer, & Salovey, 2002; Mayer, Salovey & Caruso, 2004) only tangen-
tially included creativity. Sternberg (1985) called for greater emphasis on creative
abilities and practical knowledge research. He suggested that EI enables people to
more effectively navigate the everyday environment and act creatively (see also
Brackett, Rivers, & Salovey, 2011), but this body of knowledge has been slow to
accumulate. Specifically, the pathways through which EI may facilitate creativity
remain elusive. Research in both psychology (Ivcevic, Brackett, & Mayer, 2007;
Sanchez-Ruiz, Hernandez-Torrano, Perez-Gonzalez, Batey, & Petrides, 2011) and
organizational behavior (Zhou & George, 2003) point to the need to further explore
whether and how EI can facilitate creativity.
This study examines a complex pathway integrating two emerging concepts in the
positive psychology literaturegenerosity and vigor. We propose and test a media-
tion model in which EI is indirectly related to creativity, serially through generosity
and vigor. In so doing, we attempt to shed new light on the ways whereby EI may
facilitate creativity by unraveling why emotionally astute individuals are likely to
display generosity behaviors (engagement in doing favors while interacting with col-
leagues; Flynn, 2003), why benevolent - favor exchange related - behaviors are likely
to enhance an employee’s sense of vigor (feelings of increased energy, strength, func-
tioning; Shirom, 2003), and the implications of vigor for creativity. This model,
shown in Figure 1, depicts a pathway that integrates social interaction (generosity
behaviors) and positive affect (vigor) through which EI facilitates creativity.
THEORETICAL BACKGROUND AND HYPOTHESES
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AND GENEROSITY
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a construct that encompasses a set of four specific
competencies: (a) “the ability to perceive accurately, appraise, and express emotion;
(b) the ability to access and/or generate feelings when they facilitate thought; (c) the
ability to understand emotion and emotional knowledge; and (d) the ability to regulate
emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth” (Mayer & Salovey, 1997, p. 10).
It has become a key component organizations seek to cultivate at work (Hughes,
2005). Evidence suggests that individuals’ capacity to understand and relate to others’
Emotional
Intelligence Vigor Generosity Creativity
H1 5H&4H3H&2H
H6
FIGURE 1. The hypothesized research model.
2
Emotional Intelligence and Creativity
emotions and handle them in an effective manner may increase positive member inter-
actions (Jordan, Murray, & Lawrence, 2009). EI has been shown to be related to posi-
tive social exchanges; in contrast, less emotionally intelligent individuals are more
likely to have poor relationships with others, higher aggression, and relatively greater
drug and alcohol use (Brackett & Mayer, 2003; Brackett, Mayer, & Warner, 2004).
Although this line of research points to a positive link between EI and positive
social interactions with colleagues, little is known about why emotionally astute indi-
viduals are more likely to display generosity behaviors. Peterson and Seligman (2004)
view generosity as a core human virtue. As Dahlsgaard, Peterson, and Seligman (2005,
p. 208) noted, in classical Athenian culture, “notions of shared humanity, of the
importance of friendship, of generosity and charitable acts, of giving others pleasure
and not pain,” were acknowledged and admired. This is also a vital virtue in Confu-
cianism philosophy as it points to kindnesses, and in Judaism where a cornerstone of
being a good person, as it appears in Pirkei Avot [Ethics of the Fathers], is giving.
Generosity is a form of prosocial behavior. The latter refers to “behavior which
the actor expects will benefit the person or persons to whom it is directed” (Brief &
Motowidlo, 1986, p. 711). A key quality of kindness is generosity (also called favor
exchange), which is giving assistance to others who cannot obtain resources or per-
form a task alone (Blau, 1964; Flynn, 2003). Favor exchange is an interaction where
exchanging resources is based on expectations of equal resources being returned
directly (Flynn, 2003). Engaging in favor exchange refers to a “dyadic interaction in
which giving and receiving resources is predicated on the expectation of equitable
resources being provided directly in return (Blau, 1964)” (Flynn, 2003, p. 540). Foa
and Foa (1980) articulated six types of exchanges: status, service, love, money, infor-
mation, and goods. These types and how they are conducted are important in work-
place interactions. Favor exchanges and their implementation are integral
components affecting the way they are perceived (Flynn & Brockner, 2003) and how
they impact a person’s social status (Flynn, 2003).
We suggest that emotionally astute individuals are likely to do more favors than
their colleagues do for them and display generosity behaviors. Emotionally intelligent
people utilize emotions in a way that enables them to better understand the social sur-
roundings and this understanding helps them to know when and how to enact gener-
osity behaviors. Specifically, individuals with a high level of EI can utilize their capacity
to appraise and recognize emotions in others; they are able to sense others’ emotions
and predict their potential emotional responses. This helps them notice when a col-
league needs a favor and respond to those needs. This is vital in organizational life
because work is highly interdependent, and thus to complete tasks more effectively,
favors such as helping behaviors become crucial. Furthermore, generosity is likely to be
reciprocated among emotionally intelligent individuals due to their abilities to notice
and respond to each other’s needs. Finally, emotionally astute people are capable of
forming and cultivating high quality interpersonal relationships, which also reinforces
engagement in favor exchange. Thus, the following hypothesis is suggested:
Hypothesis 1: Emotional intelligence is positively related to generosity.
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Journal of Creative Behavior
GENEROSITY AND VIGOR
Vigor refers to a set of interrelated affective states (e.g., energy) experienced at
work (Shirom, 2010). Invigorated employees report a sense of vitality, well-being,
and are helpful in shaping a better working atmosphere (Shirom, 2007). Recent
research indicates that employees who reported a positive state of vigor tend to exhi-
bit organizational citizenship behaviors and display low levels of negative deviant
behaviors such as lateness and early leave of the work (Little, Nelson, Wallace, &
Johnson, 2011). We suggest that generosity behaviors are likely to engender vigor.
Lawler, Thye, and Yoon (2000) studied the effects of frequency exchange in the
workplace and found that there were greater positive emotions reported by mem-
bers, and uncertainty about others’ intentions was reduced when there was greater
favor exchange among members. In addition, Flynn (2003) studied the effects of the
frequency of favor exchange and found that the more exchanges took place, the
more productive members were. Baker and Dutton (2007) noted that social capital
is positive if it helps people to grow, thrive, and flourish in organizations and
thereby achieve goals in new and better ways. They pointed out that “acts of kind-
ness and generosity between two people expand each person’s emotional resources
(e.g., joy or gratefulness) and openness to new ideas and influences (Dutton &
Heaphy, 2003)” (Baker & Dutton, 2007, p. 326).
Shirom’s research highlights a variety of antecedents for vigor (Shirom, 2011;
Shraga & Shirom, 2009). The most frequent are positive exchanges between leaders
and members, accomplishing difficult tasks, and coping with situations viewed as
challenging (Shraga & Shirom, 2009). Interactions with other members include work
relationships, demonstrations of friendship and humanity, and general cooperation
and workplace support. These suggest that generosity is likely to increase vigor.
Shirom (2011) argued that more favor exchanges and support within organizations
are likely to lead to an increase in vigor among members. Carmeli, Ben-Hador,
Waldman, and Rupp (2009) studied the effects of bonding social capital on organi-
zational members. They found that relational leaders, who are sensitive to the rela-
tional health in the organization, help to shape and augment bonding social capital,
which in turn nurtures a sense of vigor, thereby improving job performance. This
type of reciprocal emotional support has been shown to enhance exchanges in orga-
nizational settings (Flynn, 2003) and is cultivated by an interpersonal environment
that is generative, meaningful, and nurture positive experiences such as vigor and
positive energy (Carmeli & Spreitzer, 2009; Carmeli et al., 2009; Shirom, 2007; Terry
et al., 2000). On the basis of Flynn’s (2003) research, we suggest that giving or
engaging in a favor exchange not only engenders positive emotions about the
exchange relationship and the exchange partners (Willer, Lovaglia, & Markovsky,
1997) but also augments vigor, as the giver is likely to feel energized and invigo-
rated, and his or her self-concept is reinforced. Thus, the following hypothesis is
suggested:
Hypothesis 2: Generosity is positively associated with vigor.
4
Emotional Intelligence and Creativity
Building on these sets of theoretical arguments, we reason that emotionally astute
individuals utilize their emotions to notice others’ needs and respond through gene-
rosity; these acts, in turn, reinforce favor exchange and augment the positive effect
of vigor. In essence, we suggest that emotionally intelligent individuals are more
likely to engage in favor exchange and giving behaviors; the latter help in creating
the relational sphere in which feelings of vigor are likely to be engendered and fur-
ther cultivated. Thus, the following hypothesis is suggested:
Hypothesis 3: Generosity mediates the relationship between emotional
intelligence and vigor.
VIGOR AND CREATIVITY
Creativity is defined as the production of ideas, products, or procedures that are
novel or original, and potentially useful to the employing organization (Amabile,
1983). As such, creativity is a process of idea generation, problem-solving, and the
implementation of an actual idea or solution within a social context (Amabile, 1983;
Sternberg, 1988; Weisberg, 1988). Creativity has become a key research topic in
industrial/organizational psychology mainly because of its importance for individual
and organizational success (Agars, Kaufman, & Locke, 2008; Gilson, 2008). Innova-
tive ideas developed by organizational members have been found to be directly
related to higher salaries, promotion, and career satisfaction (Seibert, Kraimer, &
Crant, 2001). Furthermore, research indicates that creative people have better physi-
cal health (Stuckey & Nobel, 2010), and higher general well-being and functioning
(King & Pope, 1999; Richards, 2007).
We suggest that people with a sense of vigor are likely to engage in the creative
process and exhibit creative behaviors. Theory and research on positive affect pro-
vide some important insights into the impact of states of positive affect on creativity
(Isen, 1999). Fredrickson (1998) developed the broaden-and-build model of positive
emotions and pointed out that when people experience positive emotions, their
intellectual and psychological resources expand enabling them to search, explore,
and come up with original ideas. Empirical findings lend support to this theoretical
claim, and show that positive affect such as moods (Amabile, Barsade, Mueller, &
Staw, 2005), vitality (Cohen-Meitar, Carmeli, & Waldman, 2009), energy (Atwater &
Carmeli, 2009), and subjective relational experiences (Vinarski-Peretz, Binyamin, &
Carmeli, 2011) are positively associated with creativity. In addition, Montgomery,
Hodges, and Kaufman (2004) found that the dimension of positive moodsvigor/
activitywas the strongest predictor of disciplined imagination, a facet of creativity.
In a meta-analytic review of mood and creativity, Baas, De Dreu, and Nijstad
(2008) concluded that activating moods (i.e., happiness, elation) results in greater
motivation and heightened creativity than deactivating moods (i.e., calmness).
De Dreu, Baas, and Nijstad (2008) proposed a dual pathway to creativity. This dual
pathway model posits that when individuals experience an activating, positive mood
tone, their cognitive flexibility increases, resulting in greater creative fluency.
5
Journal of Creative Behavior
Vosburg (1998) found that people with trait-like positive moods were more likely to
have greater levels of divergent thinking. Russell and Steiger (1982) used a multidi-
mensional scaling analysis to differentiate clusters of emotions. They found that
vigor was a distinct positive emotional state related to pleasure and arousal. We rea-
son that an individual whose sense of vigor is aroused has the energy, expansive
resources, and flexibility to pursue new things and generate novel and useful ideas.
Thus, the following hypothesis is suggested:
Hypothesis 4: There is a positive relationship between vigor and creativity.
Grant and Berry (2011) studied the intervening role of prosocial motivation in the
relationship between intrinsic motivation and creativity. They found that prosocial
motivation increased creativity in intrinsically motivated members, and that the effect
of prosocial motivation was further found to be mediated by perspective-taking.
Therefore, prosocial behaviors may be important mechanisms in fostering creativity.
The current study extends these findings by focusing primarily on generous favor
exchanges.
Support for the supposition that vigor indirectly mediates the relationship between
generosity and creativity derives from the literature on work engagement. Bakker and
Demerouti’s (2007) Job Demands-Resources Model stated that both job (social sup-
port, supervisory coaching, feedback, etc.) and personal resources (resilience, opti-
mism, self-efficacy, etc.) can lead to increased work engagement (cf. Bakker &
Demerouti, 2008). Work engagement consists of three combined components: vigor,
dedication, and absorption. Schaufeli and Bakker (2004) found that job resources
(performance feedback, social support, and supervisor coaching) were key drivers of
work engagement in four different samples. Bakker, Gierveld, and Van Rijswijk
(2006) found that work engagement was related to creativity in a sample of school
principals (published in Dutch, cited in Bakker & Demerouti, 2008). However, there
is a notable difference between the current study and studies on work engagement.
Work engagement, as defined in previous studies, includes vigor in a composite mea-
sure of engagement along with dedication and absorption. In this study, we concep-
tualize and assess vigor as an affect state rather than as an engagement state.
Building on this line of theory and research, we reason that people who are
engaged in acts of generosity while interacting with their colleagues at work will
develop a positive affect for vigor, which in turn is likely to activate a sense of posi-
tive arousal and energy; this, in turn, helps cultivate flexible thinking, enhanced
intellectual and psychological resources, and enables exploration, learning, and ulti-
mately the generation of novel and useful ideas. Thus, the following hypothesis is
suggested:
Hypothesis 5: Vigor mediates the relationship between generosity and
creativity.
Research suggests that there is a more complex relationship between EI and
creativity (Ivcevic et al., 2007). For instance, Zenasni, Besanc, and Lubart (2008)
6
Emotional Intelligence and Creativity
found that emotional traits were more important for individual creativity but
that overly high levels of arousal resulted in fewer positive and pleasant ideas.
These findings contribute the literature in that they show how individuals who
are high on EI use and regulate their emotions to drive creativity in social
exchanges. This suggests that engagement in acts of generosity in the workplace
will lead to increased levels of vigor and will in turn enhance employee creative
behaviors. Thus, we suggest that the pathway through which EI enhances creativ-
ity encompasses generosity and a positive affective state of vigor.
Hypothesis 6: Generosity and vigor will sequentially mediate the relationship
between EI and Creativity.
METHOD
PARTICIPANTS AND PROCEDURE
Employees (N=250) from two software firms and a service firm were asked
to participate in this study. After receiving approval from the Human Resources
Department, we sent an invitation letter to employees to take part in the study
during a site visit. In this letter, we described the general goal of the study and
its importance for a better understanding of creativity in the workplace. No
specifics were given to reduce potential biases through framing or first
information.
Participants completed a structured survey at two time points, with a 3-week lag
between Time 1 and Time 2. We chose this time lag to examine the influence of
EI and generosity at one time point, and vigor and creativity at a later point in
time. We also chose this specific time lag, so we could separate responses and
reduce potential biases associated with collecting data at one time (Podsakoff,
MacKenzie, Lee, & Podsakoff, 2003), and assuring that the time lag was not too
close or too distant where organizational events (e.g., acquisition, downsizing,
change in leadership) would not affect the results. We asked respondents to select
a unique and anonymous identifier to preserve anonymity, so that we could match
their completed questionnaires from Time 1 to Time 2. We did not find statisti-
cally significant differences between respondents and non-respondents in terms of
age or tenure.
We received 202 usable surveys (a response rate of 80.8 percent) that were com-
pleted at both points in time. One hundred and sixteen employees in the service
firm (a response rate of 89.2 percent) and 86 employees in the software firms (a
response rate 71.6 percent) completed the surveys at both points in time. The
respondents’ positions included engineering, quality control, maintenance and tech-
nical operations, customer service, and administration (administrative officer, recep-
tionist). The average age was 32.15 (SD =8.41), and the average tenure was
4.83 years (SD =5.83). Forty-nine percent of respondents were female. Thirty-four
percent had a high school diploma or equivalent and 48% had a Bachelor’s degree;
the remainder had a Master’s degree or above.
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Journal of Creative Behavior
MEASURES
Emotional intelligence
We used Wong and Law’s (2002) WLEIS scale to assess EI. This scale consists of
four sets of four items assessing four dimensions: Self-Emotions Appraisal (SEA) (“I
have a good sense of why I have certain feelings most of the time”), Others-
Emotions Appraisal (OEA) (“I always know my friends’ emotions from their behav-
ior”), Use of Emotion (UOE) (“I always set goals for myself and then try my best to
achieve them”), Regulation of Emotion (ROE) (“I am able to control my temper so
that I can handle difficulties rationally”). Responses were made on a five-point Lik-
ert-type scale ranging from 1 =“not at all” to 5 =“to a very large extent.” Because
of the relatively small sample and to avoid violating the acceptable ratio for items to
N sample (an observed item per 10 respondents), we followed Little, Cunningham,
Shahar, and Widaman’s (2002) guidelines and used parcels instead of items to
reduce the ratio of model indicators to observations to improve the overall struc-
tural equation model fit. We thus used parcels in the subsequent SEM analyses (EI
is represented as parcels of four items). The Cronbach’s alpha for the overall
measure was .86.
Generosity
We drew on Flynn’s (2003) and Flynn and Brockner’s (2003) research and used six
of their items to assess generosity behaviors: (a) “When one of my colleagues at work
needs a favor I am always there for her/him;” (b) “Favors I do for my colleagues at
work help them;” (c) “I do more favors for my colleagues at work than they do for
me;” (d) I do favors that correspond to what my colleagues at work want;” (e) “My
colleagues at work are satisfied with the favors I do for them;” (f) “My colleagues at
work do more favors for me than I do for them” (reverse-scored item). Responses
were made on a five-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 =“not at all” to 5 =“to a
large extent.” Factor analytic results on the six items loaded onto one factor with an
eigenvalue of 3.38, accounting for 67.72% of the variance and having factor loadings
ranging from .64 to .90. The Cronbach’s alpha for this measure was .86.
Vigor
We used three items from Shirom’s (2003) scale to measure workplace vigor. The
items are as follows: (a) “I’m very vigorous at work”; (b) “During the work day I feel
energetic”; (c) “I feel I have physical strength to do my tasks.” Responses were made
on a five-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 =“not at all” to 5 =“to a very large
extent.” Results from factor analysis on the three vigor items loaded onto one factor
with an eigenvalue of 2.54, accounting for 84.61% of the variance and having factor
loadings ranging from .88 to .94. The Cronbach’s alpha for vigor was .91.
Creativity
We adapted the 3-item scale developed and employed by Oldham and Cummings
(1996) to assess self-reported creativity. Specifically, participants were asked to rate
8
Emotional Intelligence and Creativity
on a five-point scale, ranging from 1 =“not at all” to 5 =“to a very large extent,”
the extent to which they generate novel and useful ideas to the organization. The
items are as follows: (a) “I come up with original (totally unique) and practical
(useful to the organization) ideas at work”; (b) “I use existing resources (informa-
tion, materials, and methods) to develop ideas that are useful to my organization”;
and (c) “I generate ideas that are both novel and useful to the organization.” The
results of factor analysis on all three measurement items showed that all items per-
taining to creativity loaded onto one factor with an eigenvalue of 2.46, accounting
for 82.16 percent of the variance and having factor loadings ranging from .89 to .93.
The Cronbach’s alpha for creativity was .89.
Control variables
We controlled for organizational tenure because the work domain expertise that
comes with tenure (Oldham & Cummings, 1996) may account for variance in crea-
tivity. In addition, we controlled for educational level as it may have an effect on
creativity (e.g., Zhang & Bartol, 2010). Finally, although previous research has sug-
gested that some level of creativity is required for almost any job (Unsworth, 2001),
others have noted the need to control for jobs that require a high level of creativity
(Atwater & Carmeli, 2009). Based on the assessment of two coders, we constructed a
dummy variable {jobs that require a high level of creative behaviors =1 [e.g., a ser-
vice engineer who provides technical solutions to customers; a software developer
who is responsible for developing or upgrading a product and jobs that require a
low level of creative behaviors =0 (e.g., receptionist, customer service representa-
tive)]}and examined potential differences across types of jobs (creative vs. less crea-
tive jobs).
Data analyses
Structural equation modeling (SEM) AMOS 18 (Arbuckle, 2006) was used to esti-
mate the proposed model. We employed Anderson and Gerbing’s (1988) two-step
approach to SEM, where the first step is to assess the measurement model using
confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), followed by a sequence of nested structural
models. We report several goodness-of-fit indices in assessing the fit of the research
model.
These indices include the chi-square statistic divided by the degrees of freedom
(v
2
/df), incremental fit index (IFI), comparative fit index (CFI), Tucker-Lewis coeffi-
cient (TLI), and root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA). Following
Kline (1998), the following goodness-of-fit index criteria were used to assess model
fit: the v
2
/df ratio is recommended to be less than three; the values of IFI, CFI, and
TLI are recommended to be greater than .90 (Bollen, 1989). RMSEA is recom-
mended to be less than .05, and is “acceptable” if smaller than .08. As suggested by
Maruyama (1998) and Tanaka (1993), these indices are all parsimony-adjusted, as
they correct for the number of parameters estimated, and in the case of the CFI and
TLI, a null reference model is also used in calculating goodness-of-fit.
9
Journal of Creative Behavior
RESULTS
The means, standard deviations, reliabilities, and correlations among the variables
are presented in Table 1. Results of the bivariate correlations indicated that four
parcels measuring emotional intelligence were positively related to the six items
measuring generosity, (r=.51, p<.01), three items measuring vigor (r=.28,
p<.01), and three items measuring creativity (r=.32, p<.01). The results also
show that generosity was positively associated with both vigor (r=.39, p<.01) and
creativity (r=.38, p<.01). We also found that there was a positive relationship
between vigor and creativity (r=.56, p<.01). Finally, the results indicated that jobs
with a high level of creative requirements were related positively to creativity
(r=.37, p<.01).
PRELIMINARY ANALYSES
We first examined the construct validity evidence for the measures. Using confir-
matory factor analysis (CFA), we tested the hypothesized four-factor measurement
model (Figure 2) to assess whether each of the measurement items would load sig-
nificantly onto the scales with which they are associated. The results of the overall
CFA showed acceptable data fit (v
2
(88) =178.4; CFI =.94; IFI =.94; TLI =.91;
RMSEA =.071). Standardized coefficients from items to factors ranged from .41 to
.94. In addition, CFA results indicated the relationship between each indicator vari-
able and its respective construct was significant (p<.01), establishing the posited
relationships among indicators and constructs, and thus, convergent validity (Hair,
Anderson, Tatham, & Black, 1998). We compared the fit of our model to a two-
factor, common method model with the EI, generosity (Gen), and vigor (Vig) items
loading onto one factor, and creativity (Creat) items loading onto a second factor.
The fit of this model was poor, and significantly worse than our proposed four-
factor model (v
2
(93) =753.3; CFI =.56; IFI =.568; TLI =.43; RMSEA =.187;
Dv
2
(5) =574.9, p<.01).
MODEL COMPARISONS AND HYPOTHESIS TESTS
To summarize, we proposed a mediated model where the relationship between EI
and creativity is serially mediated by generosity and vigor. Given that we posited a
three-path mediated effect (i.e., a model with two sequential mediators), we tested
our hypotheses in two ways. First, we analyzed the full model specifying both media-
tors in sequence, simultaneously. Second, as traditional mediation tests typically
involve an independent variable, a dependent variable, and a single mediator
(Taylor, MacKinnon, & Tein, 2008), we analyzed two-path mediated sequences
nested in our model [emotional intelligence (EI) ?generosity (Gen) ?vigor (Vig),
and generosity (Gen) ?Vigor (Vig) ?creativity (Creat)] separately.
We tested these models using SEM, which has several advantages over hierarchical
regression approaches with regard to testing mediation (Cheung & Lau, 2008). SEM
is a better statistical tool for investigating latent variables with multiple indicators
(Holmbeck, 1997). It controls for measurement error and avoids underestimating
mediation effects (Hoyle & Smith, 1994), while allowing for the analysis of more
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Emotional Intelligence and Creativity
TABLE 1. Means, Standard Deviations (SD), and Correlations
MSD 1 234567
1. Education 2.66 1.00
2. Organizational
tenure
4.90 5.77 .24**
3. Job type
(1 =creative
job)
—— .22** .15*
4. Emotional
intelligence
3.70 .46 .08 .06 .13 (.86)
5. Generosity 3.79 .65 .08 .03 .03 .51** (.86)
6. Vigor 3.66 .99 .16* .05 .30** .28** .39** (.91)
7. Creativity 3.12 .89 .15* .12 .37** .32** .38** .56** (.89)
Note. N=202, Alpha reliabilities appear in parentheses.
*p<.05, **p<.01
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Journal of Creative Behavior
complex models (Hoyle & Smith, 1994), and specifying all relevant paths (Baron &
Kenny, 1986). Because traditional guidelines for testing mediation (e.g., Baron &
Kenny, 1986; Kenny, Kashy & Bolger, 1998) are not as suitable for SEM applications,
we tested the hypothesized mediating relationships through a series of nested model
comparisons, as recommended by others (see James, Mulaik & Brett, 2006;
Schneider, Ehrhart, Mayer, Saltz & Niles-Jolly, 2005).
TESTING THE THREE-STAGE MEDIATED EFFECT
We first tested our hypothesized model by specifying the role of both mediators
simultaneously (i.e., EI ?Gen ?Vig ?Creat). Additional paths from control
variables (educational level, tenure in the organization, and job type) to creativity
were also specified in this model. The results indicated that the model fit the data
well (see Table 2 and Figure 2).
To test for mediation, we compared the fit and path coefficients of this model
with a second model (Model 1) that was identical to our hypothesized model except
for the addition of direct effect paths from EI to creativity, and generosity to creativ-
ity. As shown in Table 2, although all the hypothesized paths remained statistically
significant, the direct paths from EI to Creat, and Gen to Creat were not. Following
Holmbeck (1997), the results of the Dv
2
difference test showed that the addition of
the direct effect paths significantly improved model fit. However, these additional
paths were not statistically significant and thus the hypothesized model was more
parsimonious. To further test the robustness of our hypotheses, we compared the fit
of our hypothesized model to an alternative model that changed the sequential order
of the mediators (i.e., EI ?Vig ?Gen ?Creat). This is depicted as Model 2 in
Table 2. As shown, the overall fit was significantly less adequate than the hypothe-
sized model. Collectively, the results show support for our hypotheses.
FURTHER ANALYSES
As three-path mediated effects are still relatively rare in the literature (Taylor
et al., 2008), we follow Carmeli et al.’s (2009) study and tested the two-path medi-
tated effects nested within our hypothesized model separately. As with the full
Emotional
Intelligence Vigor Generosity Creativity
Organizational
Tenure
Educational
Level
Job Type
.65** .42** 45. **
.21**
n.s. .26**
FIGURE 2. The results of the hypothesized research model.
12
Emotional Intelligence and Creativity
model, we tested the hypothesized effects (EI ?Gen ?Vig and Gen ?Vig ?
Creat, Table 3, Models 3 and 5, respectively) and compared each to a second model
that included the direct effect (Table 3, Models 4 and 6, respectively). Furthermore,
as done above, additional paths from control variables to creativity were specified in
Models 5 and 6. Table 3 shows that the results of these analyses were mixed. The
additional direct effect path added in Model 4 was not significant and models 3 and
4 did not exhibit statistical differences, thus lending further support to the media-
tion relationships of EI?Gen?Vig. However, the additional direct effect path added
in Model 6 was significant, and Models 5 and 6 were statistically distinct, thus sug-
gesting that generosity is directly and indirectly, through vigor, related to creativity.
Nevertheless, a more parsimonious mediation model is presented in Table 2 and
illustrated in Figure 2, which provides support for the specified role of both media-
tors simultaneously (i.e., EI ?Gen ?Vig ?Creat).
DISCUSSION
In this study, we sought to shed light on the complex link between emotional
intelligence (EI) and creativity by serially specifying two important mediators
generosity and vigor. The results of the SEM analyses support a sequential mediation
TABLE 2. Testing the Two-Stage Mediation Model: Comparisons and Path
Coefficient of SEMs
a
Hypothesized model Model 1 Model 2
EI ?Gen .65* EI ?Gen .65* EI ?Vig .50*
Gen ?Vig .42* Gen ?Vig .39* Vig ?Gen .44*
Vig ?Creat .54* Vig ?Creat .42* Gen ?Creat .38*
EI ?Creat .30
Gen ?Creat .03
v
2
230.6 217.7 275.2
df 130 128 130
Dv
2
12.9*
RMSEA .062 .059 .074
CFI .935 .942 .907
TLI .915 .923 .877
IFI .937 .944 .909
Note.
a
EI =emotional intelligence; Gen =generosity; Vig =vigor; Creat =creativity.
Results are for an omnibus test where two mediators are specified simultaneously in
the model. In all models, the control variables (educational level, tenure in the organi-
zation, and job type) were linked to creativity; both control variables, tenure in the
organization and job type, had a significant relationship with creativity (.21, p<.01
and .26, p<.01, respectively) when the variables EI, Gen, Vig, and Creat were speci-
fied in the model.
*p<.01.
13
Journal of Creative Behavior
model according to which EI is positively related to generosity and vigor, which in
turn are positively associated with creativity.
This study makes a unique contribution to the literature by unraveling a pathway
that integrates positive social interaction (generosity behaviors) and vigor through
which EI drives creativity. We addressed an earlier call (Sternberg, 1985) and
expanded on recent attempts (Ivcevic et al., 2007) to explore the link between EI and
creativity, thus contributing to this emerging body of knowledge (Joseph & Newman,
2010; O’Boyle et al., 2011). Specifically, this study extends the literature and points to
a positive pathway through which EI can explain variation in creative behaviors.
Drawing parallels from the results of research on EI and job performance (cf. O’Boyle
et al., 2011), this study shows that the impact of EI on behavioral outcomes (in our
case, creative behaviors) is more complex than may have been suggested.
Our study also enriches a stream of research on prosocial behaviors and positive
emotions as they pertain to creative behaviors. We expand on Lawler et al.’s
TABLE 3. Testing the Two Mediating Effects Separately: Comparisons and Path
Coefficient of SEMs
a
EI ?Gen ?Vig Gen ?Vig ?Creat
Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6
EI ?
Gen
.65* EI ?Gen .65* Gen ?Vig .40* Gen ?Vig .38*
Gen ?
Vig
.39* Gen ?Vig .25* Vig ?Creat .54* Vig ?Creat .44*
EI ?Vig .21 Gen ?Creat .21*
v
2
147.2 145.4 136.6 128.3
df 87 86 73 72
Dv
2
1.8, ns 8.3*
RMSEA .059 .058 .066 .062
CFI .946 .947 .956 .961
TLI .925 .925 .937 .943
IFI .947 .948 .957 .962
Note.
a
EI =emotional intelligence; Gen =generosity; Vig =vigor; Creat =creativity.
Results are for an omnibus test where two mediators are specified simultaneously in
the model. In Models 3 and 4, the control variables (educational level, tenure in the
organization, and job type) were linked to vigor, and the results only indicate a signifi-
cant link between job type and vigor (.31, p<.01). In models 5 and 6, the control vari-
ables (educational level, tenure in the organization, and job type) were linked to
creativity; both control variables, tenure in the organization and job type, had a signifi-
cant relationship with creativity (.21, p<.01 and .26, p<.01, respectively) when the
variables EI, Gen, Vig, and Creat were specified in the model.
*p<.01.
14
Emotional Intelligence and Creativity
(2000) research concerning the link between favor exchanges and positive affect
and show that prosocial behaviors of generosity and acts of giving to others (Blau,
1964; Brief & Motowidlo, 1986; Flynn, 2003) are powerful means of engendering a
positive affect state of vigor. In so doing, we suggest that generosity behaviors may
generate a powerful return to the givers not just in terms of people’s social status
(Flynn, 2003) but also as a source of positive emotional state (i.e., vigor). We also
extended Grant and Berry’s (2011) research on intrinsic motivation, prosocial
motivation, and creativity. We found that generosity behaviors were positively
related to creativity, through feelings of vigor. This enhances our understanding of
the social drivers of vigor (Carmeli et al., 2009; Shirom, 2010) and answers the call
to extend research beyond linking intrinsic motivation and creativity by examining
other psychological constructs (e.g., passion) (Liu, Chen, & Yao, 2011) that can
shed further light on drivers for creativity (Amabile & Pillemer, 2012).
Furthermore, this study contributes to the emerging literature on vigor and its
implications in the workplace (Shirom, 2011). Although previous research has docu-
mented the positive influence of vigor on job performance (Carmeli et al., 2009),
our study provides a first step and shows that feelings of vigor are also a key to fos-
tering employee creative behaviors.
The findings of this study lend further support to the broaden-and-build model
of positive emotions (Fredrickson, 1998; Fredrickson & Branigan, 2004) and the
theoretical claim that experiencing positive emotions activates the cognitive arsenal,
such that people’s intellectual and psychological resources are enhanced, prompting
them to engage in search and exploration (see also Isen, 1999). Furthermore, our
findings contribute to the literature on activating emotions (i.e., happiness, elation)
and their positive influence on cognitive flexibility and by implication on creative
behaviors (Baas et al., 2008; De Dreu et al., 2008).
LIMITATIONS AND DIRECTIONS OF FUTURE RESEARCH
When interpreting the results, several issues must be kept in mind. First, similar
to Carmeli et al. (2009), this study used self-reports in assessing the mediating and
independent variables. Chan (2009) stated that self-reports may have questionable
validity because they are flawed as indicators of the intended constructs and are
unable to provide accurate parameters of interconstruct relationships. Studies have
shown weak relationships between creative self-beliefs and output among children
(Kaufman, Evans, & Baer, 2010) and college students (Lee, Day, Meara, & Maxwell,
2002). Reiter-Palmon, Robinson-Morral, Kaufman, and Santo (2012) found self-
reported creativity to be strongly related to creative self-efficacy rather than behav-
ioral measures of creativity. They note that this relationship may be in part due to
the fact that self-reported creativity may measure the motivation to be creative
rather than creative performance. The accuracy of self-reported creativity may be
related to a person’s creative metacognition; namely, some people low in creative
metacognition may believe that they are very creative yet not demonstrate creative
proficiency (Kaufman & Beghetto, 2013).
15
Journal of Creative Behavior
Chan, however, also suggested that problems of these types may be overstated in
literature. Having conducted a CFA on each measure, the results indicated that each
measure loaded onto a single factor with a strong Cronbach’s alpha for each. In
many cases, it has been argued that self-report data are the best measure of psycho-
logical traits (Mischel, 1968). With creativity, Hocevar (1981) argued that
self-reported creativity may be a better indicator of one’s creative ability than leader-
reported creativity. This may be a result of the fact that leaders may be unable to
discriminate creativity from other unrelated criteria, as well as having limited knowl-
edge of members’ creative abilities assessed from observation (Hocevar, 1981; Zhou,
Shin, & Cannella, 2008). Furthermore, we sought to mitigate a potential bias by sep-
arating the data on emotional intelligence from generosity (first wave) and data on
vigor from creative behaviors (second wave) (Podsakoff et al., 2003). In addition,
self-reported creativity has been found to have significant (if low) correlations with
measures of divergent thinking (Furnham, Batey, Anand, & Manfield, 2008).
Second, we did not record reports of generosity and vigor in a longitudinal man-
ner. Flynn (2003) stated that collecting longitudinal data on favor exchange could
provide further insights into how these exchanges may change over time between
members and leaders. This fluctuation could result in different findings over time
between EI and generosity and generosity and vigor; it could likewise affect produc-
tivity and its relationships with generosity and vigor (Carmeli et al., 2009; Flynn,
2003; Flynn & Brockner, 2003). This method could rule out possibilities of relation-
ships during a specific time as a data-linked issue, and find stronger causal
circumstances.
Third, we did not measure the types of favor exchange, nor how they were
enacted. Foa and Foa’s (1980) six types of exchange could affect how individuals
respond to a proposed favor. If someone feels threatened by an unwelcome
exchange, it could lead to retraction or avoidance of a leader or another member.
Future research could consider this and assess types of favor exchanges within an
organization. Goffman (1971) suggested that how a favor is performed could influ-
ence how one perceives and reciprocates the favor. Flynn (2003) further stated that
positive exchanges between members and leaders will result in different interactions
than exchanges that are perceived negatively. Future research could measure how
different types of exchanges relate to vigor.
Finally, neither trait nor state affectivity was measured in the participants. Vigor
can also be measured as either of these two affective types. It would be beneficial in
future research to measure trait and state affectivity and how they relate or not to
vigor, generosity, and/or creativity. Future research could assess the validity of state
and trait measures of vigor with Shirom’s (2003) measures used in this study to
probe the similarities and differences in measuring vigor and its role as an emotion.
IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS
In organizational settings, social exchanges are prevalent as work become more
and more interdependent. People who are high on EI and concretize this by helping
others through generous behaviors will feel vigorous and are likely to display a
16
Emotional Intelligence and Creativity
higher level of creativity. As shown in research on favor exchange (e.g., Flynn,
2003), membermember exchange is a more common occurrence than leadermem-
ber exchange. Within the workplace where favor exchange is promoted among peers
and leaders, this can help members to develop a sense of vigor, and thus result in a
higher level of engagement in the creative process. These qualities may create higher
quality relationships between members within organizational settings. Our study
provides insights into how EI and creativity are mediated by generosity and vigor.
If organizational members (leaders, followers, co-workers) use and regulate their
emotions properly, they can create a trusting and cohesive environment where shar-
ing ideas will not involve possible repercussions and backlash, but will make them
feel vigorous, and enable them to better maximize their motivation and creative
potential.
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Abraham Carmeli, Tel Aviv University and King’s College London
Alexander S. McKay, California State University
James C. Kaufman, University of Connecticut
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Abraham Carmeli, Faculty of Management,
Tel Aviv University, Ramat-Aviv, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel. E-mail: avic@post.tau.ac.il
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
We thank the anonymous reviewers of this journal for their helpful and constructive feedbacks and Esther
Singer for her helpful editorial comments on an earlier draft of this study. The first author acknowledges the
support of the Coller Institute of Venture and Henry Crown Institute of Business Research in Israel for this
research.
21
Journal of Creative Behavior
... However, there are very few studies on Bourdieu capitals in leadership and creativity perspective. There were few scholars (Akram et al. 2017;Nieves and Quintana, 2018;Carmeli et al. 2014;Gu et al. 2014;Yu, 2013;Liu, 2013) who focused on creativity and innovation in relation to a single or two Bourdieu capitals. However, they did not incorporate leadership effectiveness on subordinates in the relationship. ...
... However, emotional capital refers to a person' emotional resources which includes the properties of emotional intelligence. There is a positive relationship between emotional intelligence and creativity as reported by Lassk and Shepherd (2013), Carmeli, Mckay, and Kaufman (2014), and, Silva and Coelho (2018). ...
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