Positive affect facilitates creative problem solving

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1987 Jun;52(6):1122-31. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.52.6.1122.


Four experiments indicated that positive affect, induced by means of seeing a few minutes of a comedy film or by means of receiving a small bag of candy, improved performance on two tasks that are generally regarded as requiring creative ingenuity: Duncker's (1945) candle task and M. T. Mednick, S. A. Mednick, and E. V. Mednick's (1964) Remote Associates Test. One condition in which negative affect was induced and two in which subjects engaged in physical exercise (intended to represent affectless arousal) failed to produce comparable improvements in creative performance. The influence of positive affect on creativity was discussed in terms of a broader theory of the impact of positive affect on cognitive organization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Arousal
  • Creativity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Problem Solving*
  • Psychomotor Performance