Playground or Prison? How Successful Creators’ Psychological Representations of Their Audience Impact Future Work Orientations
Lunch Talk by Julianna Pilmer
Oplysninger om arrangementet
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.