Creative activities and emotional well-being: two recent studies

We want to recapitulate two recent interesting studies concerning the world of creativity related to the emotional well-being. The first one was written by R. Perach and A. Wisman, entitled “Can Creativity Beat Death? A Review and Evidence on the Existential Anxiety Buffering Functions of Creative Achievement” examines the possibility that creativity could shoot down the anxiety generated by the thought of death; the second one was written by Tamlin S. Conner, Colin G. DeYoung & Paul J. Silvia, entitled “Everyday creative activity as a path to flourishing”, talks about the relationship between creativity activities and a positive attitude.

Can creative endeavors buffer anxiety about death? A group of psychologists at the University of Kent examined levels of creative achievement and ambition in a group of 108 students to clarify the role of creative contributions in mediating apprehension and dread about one’s demise. The participants completed two questionnaires to measure their levels of creative engagement and perceptions of personal creative ambition. Those individuals with a record of creative achievement and who had high levels of creative ambition made less “death associations” after thinking about their own death.

Perach and Wiseman suggest that those individuals who pursue creative endeavors and produce what they perceive to be significant creative contributions may experience more internal security in the face of death than those who do not. The results of this study may suggest universally promising upshot of creative engagement. Sociologist Brene Brown captures this universality, noting “The only unique contribution that we will ever make is this world will be born of our creativity.”

The study of Tamlin, Conner, DeYoung & Paul, instead, indicates that engaging in a creative activity just once a day can lead to a more positive state of mind. Researchers at the University of Otago constructed a study to understand if creativity impacts one’s emotional well-being, based on the growing belief that there is a connection between creativity and emotional functioning. To test this hypothesis, they evaluated the responses of 658 young adults; each day the participants documented how much time they spent on creative endeavors as well as the positive and negative emotional changes they perceived.

After 13 days, the researchers reviewed the participants’ responses and discovered an “upward spiral for well-being and creativity” in those individuals who engaged in daily creative pastimes. In brief, creative activities provided a measurable boost in positive affect during the following day. The researchers also examined participant data from a “flourishing scale” that asked individuals to rank responses to various questions such as “Today my social relationships were supportive and rewarding.” These rankings correlated to creative engagement, implying that creativity may, in fact, impact both happiness in social relationships and positivity in the workplace.

A creative activity can be as simple as keeping a doodle journal, knitting, playing a musical instrument, or designing a garden for spring planting– in other words, activities that almost anyone can do. In other words, being creative helps us “feel better” and in turn, it impacts other aspects of our lives.





Written by

Graduated in Literature at the University of Eastern Piedmont, he's now studying anthropological and ethnological science at the University of Milano-Bicocca. Journalist and writer, he collaborated with many local newspapers and in the 2015 he published his first book "Qui non arriva la pioggia". In the 2017 published "Il peccato armeno, ovvero la binarietà del male".

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