“Overall, the more positive a person’s mood on a given day, the more creative thinking he did that day.” There was even a carryover effect for the next two days after.
Want to be more creative? Get happy.
Our diary study revealed a definitive connection between positive emotion and creativity. We looked at specific emotions as well as overall mood (the aggregate of a person’s positive and negative emotions during the day). Overall, the more positive a person’s mood on a given day, the more creative thinking he did that day. Across all study participants, there was a 50 percent increase in the odds of having a creative idea on days when people reported positive moods, compared with days when they reported negative moods.
We even found a surprising carryover effect showing that creativity follows from positive emotion. The more positive a person’s mood on a given day, the more creative thinking he did the next day—and, to some extent, the day after that—even taking into account his moods on those later days. This may be due to what psychologists call an incubation effect. Pleasant moods stimulate greater breadth in thinking—greater cognitive variation—which can linger and even build over a day or more. Such cognitive variation can lead to new insights at work.
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