Playground or Prison? How Successful Creators’ Psychological Representations of Their Audience Impact Future Work Orientations

Lunch Talk by Julianna Pilmer

Oplysninger om arrangementet


Onsdag 28. september 2022,  kl. 12:00 - 13:00


Building 1350, Room 325

How do successful creators’ interpretations of their audience impact their future creative work? In an inductive study of successful independent creatives – visual artists on Instagram (n = 22) and musicians on YouTube (n = 34) – we found that their orientations toward future creative work was influenced by psychological representations of their audience. We identify four triggers that made creative success salient: moments of virality, input from fans, critique from peers, and precarity salience. These triggers spurred an awareness of having an “audience” – or a largely anonymous fanbase – which were viewed as playground-like (cognitively expanding and emotionally uplifting) or prison-like (cognitively constricting and emotionally suffocating). We identified three strategies creators use to transform a prison to playground representation: 1) restricting the information and resources given to their audience; 2) recasting seemingly negative feedback as innocuous; and 3) refocusing on the creative identity they want for themselves versus those imagined by their followers. These psychological representations of audience as playground versus prison influenced whether creators had a reverent (grateful and optimistic) or a despondent (fearful and pessimistic) orientation toward future work. Our study contributes to theories of collective creativity, technological affordances and organizing, and independent work. 

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