Skip to main content

Does mood impact creativity?

“Why are we most creative when we feel down?”
Anonymous on Quora

Which moods are scientifically linked with creativity? Various research finds that negative moods and feelings are linked with a decrease in creativity:

UC-Blog-Feature-Study-MoodA 2010 study published by the Association for Psychological Science linked creativity most with positive moods. Using music and video clips, participants were primed for certain moods by researchers of the University of Western Ontario. Those who listened to the happiest music or watched an cheerful video were most able to recognize creative patterns. The happy volunteers were better at learning the rules behind patterns than those in neutral or sad moods.

“Generally, positive mood has been found to enhance creative problem solving and flexible yet careful thinking.”
Ruby Nadler, University of Western Ontario

Creativity has been associated with mood disorders. Preliminary associations compiled by the University of Iowa found higher rates of mood disorders and alcoholism among writers and playwrights. This study did not include a control group to draw comparisons against. (The relationship between creativity and mood disorders) Among those who were studied, almost all involved reported less creative output during depressive or manic states.

Positive moods enhance creativity. Creative performance increased according to an analysis of 62 experimental and 10 non-experimental studies by Mark A. Davis of the University of North Texas. Understanding the relationship between mood and creativity: A meta-analysis

Matthijs Baas of the University Of Amsterdam focuses his research on creative psychology. His work indicates that happiness, fear, and anger are the most creative enhancing moods. Sadness, relaxation, and relief decrease creativity since stimulation encourages flexibility and idea generation. Happiness leads to creative flexibility while fear and avoidance lead to creative persistence.

UC-Blog-Pinterest-Mood

Uncanny Creativity: Art & Design Productivity Podcast

We send you our lovely email newsletter with art and design tips and techniques from the podcast. Get more done in less time!
Email address
First Name
Previous Post

Do manners discourage independent thinking?

"Do manners discourage independent thinking? Would societies be more creative without them?" Anonymous (via Quora) "Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use." Emily Post Creativity according to the Oxford Dictionary is "The use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work." Awareness of the feelings of other people can definitely coexist with the use of imagination. Many creative works of literature explore this healthy coexistence. Not only in the stories they tell. In their creation, the ... Read more

Next Post

Is imagination a gift or a curse? 9 Tips to Manage Yours

"Is imagination a gift or a curse?" Anonymous via Quora Worry is Imagination. And so is Hope. Both are taking current events and guessing at a possible future. Usually without much thought about how likely the events are. And often without much thought on how we apply those thoughts to the present. Our thoughts and imagination can be trained. We're training them every day. From Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Positive Psychology to Meditation and Yoga, there are many methods of training our thoughts. We often live out the story we imagine for ourselves. To change your life for good or ... Read more

Uncanny Creativity is a podcast and blog with advice, tips and ideas about the creative process. Do you have a question our community can help answer? Record your audio or written question via this contact form. Email b@uncannycreativity.com, write on Twitter @uncannycreative, or on our Facebook page.

Sponsor: Love typography? Typeface Trivia Playing Cards: 52 cards each showcasing a distinct favorite typeface

Brian E. Young

I'm a graphic designer (portfolio), classical pianist and artist in Baltimore, MD. I host the Uncanny Creativity Podcast helping to demystify the creative process and creator of Funlooksfun.com, an online shop for apparel and games. Twitter: @sketchee

Leave a Reply

Uncanny Creativity helps artists and designers do more with less stress

Get free art and design productivity tips and podcast episodes by email! We're here to help you get more made in less time.
Email address
First Name
Secure and Spam free...

Uncanny Creativity: Art & Design Productivity Podcast

We send you our lovely email newsletter with art and design tips and techniques from the podcast. Get more done in less time!
Email address
First Name