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.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Young children use physics, not previous rewards, to learn about tools

February 23, 2018
Children as young as seven apply basic laws of physics to problem-solving, rather than learning from what has previously been rewarded, suggests new research from the University of Cambridge.

The 'loudness' of our thoughts affects how we judge external sounds

February 23, 2018
The "loudness" of our thoughts—or how we imagine saying something—influences how we judge the loudness of real, external sounds, a team of researchers from NYU Shanghai and NYU has found.

Study: Tinder loving cheaters—dating app facilitates infidelity

February 23, 2018
The popular dating app Tinder is all about helping people form new relationships. But for many college-aged people, it's also helping those in relationships cheat on their romantic partners.

Looking for the origins of schizophrenia

February 23, 2018
Schizophrenia may be related to neurodevelopmental changes, including brain's inability to generate an appropriate vascular system, according to new study resulted from a partnership between the D"Or Institute for Research ...

Color of judo uniform has no effect on winning

February 22, 2018
New research on competitive judo data finds a winning bias for the athlete who is first called, regardless of the colour of their uniform. This unique study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, puts to rest the debate on ...

Antidepressants are more effective than placebo at treating acute depression in adults, concludes study

February 22, 2018
Meta-analysis of 522 trials includes the largest amount of unpublished data to date, and finds that antidepressants are more effective than placebo for short-term treatment of acute depression in adults.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

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.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.