Inspiration: Core Characteristics, Component Processes, Antecedents, and Function

Todd M. Thrash, Andrew J. Elliot
2004 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology  
The authors examined the core characteristics, component processes, antecedents, and function of state inspiration. In Studies 1 and 2, inspiration was contrasted with baseline experience and activated positive affect (PA) using a vivid recall methodology. Results supported the tripartite conceptualization of inspiration. Confirmatory factor analysis indicated that inspiration may be decomposed into separate processes related to being inspired "by" and being inspired "to." Study 3 found that
more » ... ly inspiration is triggered by illumination among individuals high in receptive engagement, whereas activated PA is triggered by reward salience among individuals high in approach temperament. Approach temperament was also implicated in being inspired "to." Inspiration and activated PA appear to serve different functions: transmission and acquisition, respectively. In 1926, Howes (see Howes, 1926) noted that the field of psychology had contributed little to the study of inspiration. Unfortunately, because of a paucity of research, relatively little progress has been made since 1926. To help bring the concept of inspiration to the attention of psychologists, we recently reviewed the nascent inspiration literature, offered a conceptualization of the construct, and conducted a series of studies validating a measure of inspiration (Thrash & Elliot, 2003) . A limitation of our research was that it focused primarily on the trait of inspiration (i.e., individual differences), a level of analysis that is somewhat removed from the experience itself. In the present research, our first aim was to document the core characteristics of state inspiration, relative to both a neutral state (baseline experience) and a positive state (activated positive affect [PA]). Our second aim was to demonstrate that inspiration may be decomposed into separate processes related to being inspired "by" and being inspired "to." Finally, we examined a mediational model of the distal and proximal antecedents of inspiration and activated PA. Activated PA is the strongest known correlate of trait inspiration (Thrash & Elliot, 2003) and represents a basic appetitive motivational construct. Thus, contrasting inspiration with activated PA permits a stringent test of discriminant validity and an opportunity to demonstrate that inspiration cannot be explained by prevailing theories of the nature and function of approach motivation. In the following sections, we articulate hypotheses related to the three aims of our research.
doi:10.1037/0022-3514.87.6.957 pmid:15598117 fatcat:naebr2ykobdjjaiuntiw4kjybe