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Positive mood allows human brain to think more creatively

Date:
December 15, 2010
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
People who watch funny videos on the Internet at work aren't necessarily wasting time. According to new research, they may be taking advantage of the latest psychological science -- putting themselves in a good mood so they can think more creatively.
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People who watch funny videos on the internet at work aren't necessarily wasting time. They may be taking advantage of the latest psychological science -- putting themselves in a good mood so they can think more creatively.

"Generally, positive mood has been found to enhance creative problem solving and flexible yet careful thinking," says Ruby Nadler, a graduate student at the University of Western Ontario. She and colleagues Rahel Rabi and John Paul Minda carried out a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for 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 put into different moods and then given a category learning task to do (they learned 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 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 says. 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 says.

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.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ruby T. Nadler, Rahel Rabi, John Paul Minda. Better Mood and Better Performance: Learning Rule Described Categories Is Enhanced by Positive Mood. Psychological Science, 2010; 21: 1770-1776 DOI: 10.1177/0956797610387441

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Positive mood allows human brain to think more creatively." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101215113253.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2010, December 15). Positive mood allows human brain to think more creatively. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101215113253.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Positive mood allows human brain to think more creatively." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101215113253.htm (accessed July 28, 2015).

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