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Positive Mood Improves Creativity

Positive Mood Improves Creativity If goofing off at the office makes people happy, it may result in more innovative thinking. That is one of the implications of a new study that suggests upbeat work environments can improve creativity.

The work settings can put people in a good mood so they can then think more creatively.

“Generally, positive mood has been found to enhance creative problem-solving and flexible yet careful thinking,” said Ruby Nadler, a graduate student at the University of Western Ontario. She and colleagues Rahel Rabi, also a grad student, and Dr. John Paul Minda carried out the study published in the journal Psychological Science.

For this study, Nadler and her colleagues looked at a particular kind of learning that is improved by creative thinking.

Students who took part in the study were nudged into different moods and then given a category learning task to do (learning to classify sets of pictures with visually complex patterns). The researchers manipulated mood with help from music clips and video clips; first, they tried several out to find out what made people happiest and saddest.

The happiest music was a peppy Mozart piece, and the happiest video was of a laughing baby.

The researchers then used these in the experiment, along with sad music and video (a piece of music from the movie “Schindler’s List” and a news report about an earthquake) and a piece of music and a video that didn’t affect mood. After listening to the music and watching the video, people had to try to learn to recognize a pattern.

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 said.

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 said.

Nadler also thinks this may be a reason why people like to watch funny videos at work. “I think people are unconsciously trying to put themselves in a positive mood”—so that apparent time-wasting may actually be good news for employers.

Source: Association for Psychological Science

Positive Mood Improves Creativity

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Positive Mood Improves Creativity. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 16 Dec 2010)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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