Creative types handle negative feelings better than others

February 14, 2011, University of Montreal
Creative types handle negative feelings better than others
Photo: iStockphoto

(PhysOrg.com) -- Imagine someone sitting on the floor with his or her head buried in their arms and leaning on the couch. Is this person crying, sleeping, sick, dizzy or playing hide and seek? The ability to interpret this image in as many ways as possible reveals one's psychological creativity and consequently their ability to deal with negativity according to a new study by Geneviève Beaulieu-Pelletier, a PhD student at the University of Montreal Faculty of Psychology.

“Creativity is currently a popular research topic because it's a notion strongly correlated to productivity,” says Beaulieu-Pelletier. “However, I'm not speaking of artistic, physical or mathematical creativity which produces an end-product. I'm speaking of a creativity that comes about daily in the form of ideas and that can't be put on paper.”

“People are confronted with difficult situations every single day,” says Beaulieu-Pelletier. “From the death of a loved one to choosing between two university programs, seeing images of violence and poverty on television or disagreeing with a friend. All these conflicts require a specific cognitive emotional energy and I wondered if creativity could help people cope with negative emotion.”

In her study, Beaulieu-Pelletier presented an ambiguous image to 160 French-speaking students from various universities. The image could be interpreted in various negative ways and the students had to offer as many stories as possible to explain the image. The stories had to be diverse and they had to end differently.

Beaulieu-Pelletier discovered that the ones who invented the least amount of stories had lived through more negative emotions than those who had been more creative. “That said, we can't say that someone isn't creative in all aspects of their life based on one experiment,” says Beaulieu-Pelletier. “The image used clearly evoked loss and depression. To fully understand one's psychological creativity it would be necessary to also use images of love, success, the mother-child relationship, etc.”

Marc André Bouchard and Frédérick Philippe both from the Université de Montréal Faculty of Psychology collaborated with Beaulieu-Pelletier who has already begun work on a second study exploring the correlation between psychological and the quality of mental organization.

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Squirrel
not rated yet Feb 15, 2011
More flawed research giving psychology a bad name.

If you present a task that requires thinking about negative experiences it is not surprising those with more negative experiences of their own might not be so inventive. Nothing surprising there--and nothing either about creativity. That research would require an image that could be interpreted in various NEUTRAL ways not negative ones.

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