The optimism-pessimism ratio as predictor of employee creativity: the promise of duality

Arménio Rego*, Miguel Pina e Cunha, Dálcio Reis Júnior, Cátia Anastácio, Moriel Savagnago

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to study if the employees’ optimism-pessimism ratio predicts their creativity. Design/methodology/approach: In total, 134 employees reported their optimism and pessimism, and the respective supervisors described the employees’ creativity. Findings: The relationship between the optimism-pessimism ratio and creativity is curvilinear (inverted U-shaped); beyond a certain level of the optimism-pessimism ratio, the positive relationship between the ratio and creativity weakens, suggesting that the possible positive effects of (high) optimism may be weakened by a very low level of pessimism. Research limitations/implications: Being cross-sectional, the study examines neither the causal links between the optimism-pessimism ratio and creativity nor other plausible causal links. The study was carried out at a single moment and did not capture the dynamics that occur over the course of time involving changes in optimism/pessimism and creativity. Future studies may adopt longitudinal or quasi-experimental designs. Practical implications: Managers and organizations must consider that, even though positivity promotes creativity, some level of negativity may help positivity to produce creativity. Originality/value: This study suggests that scholars who want to study the antecedents of creativity (and innovation) must be cautious in focusing only on the positive or the negative sides of individuals’ characteristics, and rather they must explore the interplay between both poles. Individuals may experience both positive and negative states/traits (Smith et al., 2016), and this both/and approach may impel them to think divergently, to challenge the status quo and to propose “out the box” and useful ideas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-442
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Innovation Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2018


  • Creativity
  • Curvilinear relationship
  • Optimism
  • Optimism-pessimism ratio
  • Pessimism


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