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Abstract

Inspiration is a concept of longstanding interest in diverse areas of academia, but it has only recently become the subject of rigorous scientific investigation. In this article, we review the emerging scientific literature on inspiration, with a focus on both theory and findings. First, we present a general definition of inspiration based on an integrative literature review, and we outline approaches to differentiating the general inspiration construct into specific types. Second, we review the literature on construct validity. Third, we present substantive theory and findings, with an emphasis on the role of inspiration in promoting attainment of elusive goods, such as creativity, productivity, and happiness. Finally, we respond to frequent questions and misconceptions about inspiration, and we offer recommendations about how to promote inspiration in others or oneself.