A meta-analysis of 25 years of mood-creativity research: hedonic tone, activation, or regulatory focus?

Psychol Bull. 2008 Nov;134(6):779-806. doi: 10.1037/a0012815.


This meta-analysis synthesized 102 effect sizes reflecting the relation between specific moods and creativity. Effect sizes overall revealed that positive moods produce more creativity than mood-neutral controls (r= .15), but no significant differences between negative moods and mood-neutral controls (r= -.03) or between positive and negative moods (r= .04) were observed. Creativity is enhanced most by positive mood states that are activating and associated with an approach motivation and promotion focus (e.g., happiness), rather than those that are deactivating and associated with an avoidance motivation and prevention focus (e.g., relaxed). Negative, deactivating moods with an approach motivation and a promotion focus (e.g., sadness) were not associated with creativity, but negative, activating moods with an avoidance motivation and a prevention focus (fear, anxiety) were associated with lower creativity, especially when assessed as cognitive flexibility. With a few exceptions, these results generalized across experimental and correlational designs, populations (students vs. general adult population), and facet of creativity (e.g., fluency, flexibility, originality, eureka/insight). The authors discuss theoretical implications and highlight avenues for future research on specific moods, creativity, and their relationships.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Affect*
  • Arousal
  • Cognition
  • Creativity*
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Research*
  • Social Control, Informal*