Can frowning when you’re happy make you more creative?

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…The study shows that when bodily expressions are in conflict with one’s actual feelings – such as recalling a happy memory while frowning or listening to sad music while smiling – people become more likely to accept and embrace atypical ideas.

Kellogg researchers Adam Galinsky and Li Huang suggest that this “mind-body dissonance” sends a signal to the brain that something is out of sync and prompts it to break its normal cognitive boundaries.  

“Our minds are trained to operate within a ‘normal’ mental framework, constricting our perspectives to fit within a defined set of standards,” said Huang, a doctoral student in management and organizations at Kellogg. “Mind-body dissonance, when our thoughts and bodily expressions diverge, sheds lights on how internal conflict can be beneficial for breaking unwarranted mental sets and solving problems creatively.”

Source: Yahoo

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Is artwork of higher quality when we’re not paid to create it?

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Via Daniel Pink’s very interesting book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.

Teresa Amabile, the Harvard Business School professor and one of the world’s leading researchers on creativity, has frequently tested the effects of contingent rewards on the creative process. In one study, she and two colleagues recruited twenty-three professional artists from the United States who had produced both commissioned and noncommissioned artwork. They asked the artists to randomly select ten commissioned works and ten noncommissioned works. Then Amabile and her team gave the works to a panel of accomplished artists and curators, who knew nothing about the study, and asked the experts to rate the pieces on creativity and technical skill. “Our results were quite startling,” the researchers wrote. “The commissioned works were rated as significantly less creative than the non-commissioned works, yet they were not rated as different in technical quality. Moreover, the artists reported feeling significantly more constrained when doing commissioned works than when doing non-commissioned works.”

And:

Another study of artists over a longer period shows that a concern for outside rewards might actually hinder eventual success. In the early 1960s, researchers surveyed sophomores and juniors at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago about their attitudes toward work and whether they were more intrinsically or extrinsically motivated. Using these data as a benchmark, another researcher followed up with these students in the early 1980s to see how their careers were progressing. Among the starkest findings, especially for men: “The less evidence of extrinsic motivation during art school, the more success in professional art both several years after graduation and nearly twenty years later.” Painters and sculptors who were intrinsically motivated, those for whom the joy of discovery and the challenge of creation were their own rewards, were able to weather the tough times—and the lack of remuneration and recognition—that inevitably accompany artistic careers. And that led to yet another paradox in the Alice in Wonderland world of the third drive. “Those artists who pursued their painting and sculpture more for the pleasure of the activity itself than for extrinsic rewards have produced art that has been socially recognized as superior,” the study said. “It is those who are least motivated to pursue extrinsic rewards who eventually receive them.”


Are angry people more creative than sad people?

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Anecdotes and introspective reports from eminent scientists and artists aside, a systematic test of the putative creativity-enhancing effect of anger is missing. This article fills this void with three experiments examining creativity as a function of anger (vs. sad or mood-neutral controls). Combining insights from the literatures on creativity and on mood and information processing the authors predicted that anger (vs. sadness and mood-neutral control) triggers a less systematic and structured approach to the creativity task, and leads to initially higher levels of creativity (as manifested in original ideation and creative insights). Following work on resource depletion, the authors further predicted that anger more than sadness depletes resources and that, therefore, creative performance should decline over time more for angry than for sad people. Results supported predictions. Implications for creativity, information processing, and resource depletion are discussed.

Source: Creative Production of Angry People Peaks Early On, Decreases over Time, and is Relatively Unstructured from Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

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Another way to be more creative:

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Make friends with people from other cultures:

This research examines the effects of multicultural social networks on individuals’ creative performance. Combining network analysis with experimental methods, two studies using different samples found that networks’ degree of cultural heterogeneity positively predicts creativity on tasks that draw on varied cultural-knowledge resources but not on other tasks. The results also indicate that a culturally heterogeneous network increases the likelihood of receiving culture-related novel ideas from others in the network whether or not they share one’s culture of origin. This finding sheds light on the mechanisms that underlie multicultural networks’ effects on creativity. Theoretical and practical implications for creativity and networking are discussed.

Source: “Innovating at the World’s Crossroads: How Multicultural Networks Promote Creativity” from Harvard Business School, Working Paper 11-085

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Another tip on how to be more creative:

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“Generally, positive mood has been found to enhance creative problem solving and flexible yet careful thinking,” says Ruby Nadler, a graduate student at the University of Western Ontario. She and colleagues Rahel Rabi and John Paul Minda carried out a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. For this study, Nadler and her colleagues looked at a particular kind of learning that is improved by creative thinking.

And:

Happy volunteers were better at learning a rule to classify the patterns than sad or neutral volunteers. “If you have a project where you want to think innovatively, or you have a problem to carefully consider, being in a positive mood can help you to do that,” Nadler says. And music is an easy way to get into a good mood. Everyone has a different type of music that works for them—don’t feel like you have to switch to Mozart, she says.

Source: Eurekalert

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