This study investigated the impact of mild shifts in affective tone (i.e., pleasant vs. unpleasant) and arousal (i.e., high vs. low) on three creative processes. Undergraduates read short stories designed to induce affective shifts and then were asked to generate solutions to a complex business problem. Shifts in affective tone and arousal interacted to influence idea generation and implementation planning, but not idea evaluation. The strongest creative performance was exhibited by participants who experienced a stable and pleasantly toned, low-arousal (i.e., relaxed) state and by those who shifted to an unpleasantly toned, high-arousal (i.e., angry) state. In contrast, those who shifted to an unpleasantly toned, low-arousal (i.e., sad) state or a pleasantly toned, high-arousal (i.e., happy) state tended to exhibit poorer creative performance. These results demonstrate the need to revisit the popular conception that organizations should promote intense levels of pleasant affect to enhance employee creativity.
- affective shifts
- creative processes