Emotional Reappraisal Helps Boost Creativity: Study
Washington, 27 Nov (ONA) --- In a set of experiments, researchers found that conventional thinkers, those who rank low on openness to new ideas and experiences, came up with more creative ideas than peers after they practised "emotional reappraisal." This means viewing a situation through another emotional lens, such as trying to see an anger-inducing event as one that is neutral or hopeful.
The study, published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, indicates that creativity is something that can be trained.
"One of the study's implications is that creativity is not something that's only accessible to people we think of as 'creatives'," said lead author Lily Zhu, an assistant professor in Washington State University's Carson College of Business. "Whenever we break away from our existing perspective and try to think about something that's different from our initial reaction, there's a creative element to it. If we can practice or train that flexible-thinking muscle, it may help us be more creative over time."
For the study, Zhu and co-authors Chris Bauman and Maia Young from University of California, Irvine, conducted a survey and two similar experiments with three different sets of people.
In the experiments, conventional thinking participants who tried emotional reappraisal came up with more creative ideas than other conventional thinkers who used suppression, distraction or no emotional regulation strategy at all.
Notably, for participants who were considered creative thinkers to begin with, emotional reappraisal did not seem to have much effect on their creativity. The authors suggest that since creative people already tend to practice emotional reappraisal regularly, doing more of it doesn't have as much of an impact.
The findings have implications for improving business productivity, the researchers contend, since it appears possible to tap the knowledge and experience of more employees by encouraging their creativity, even those in conventional occupations like accounting, insurance adjustment or data analytics.