Authors: Jennifer Politis and John C. Houtz
The goal of this study was to examine the role of positive mood on generative and evaluative thinking in creative problem solving. Participants included 89 middle school students who watched either a positive or neutral mood video program. After students watched the video, they completed the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) scale to determine their current mood.
The main effect of mood on fluency was statistically significant with the positive mood group generating more ideas than students in the neutral condition. Students in the positive mood condition were significantly more fluent than those who watched the neutral video.
Participants were then divided into three groups and given a divergent thinking task to complete. Group A was asked to generate potential solutions to a problem (generative thinking). Group B was given one solution to the problem that had been offered by participants’ peers in a previous pilot study and then asked to generate possible advantages to this particular solution (evaluative thinking). Group C was given the potential solution but asked to generate potential disadvantages (also evaluative thinking).
Background and Purpose
Creativity and creative problem solving (CPS) is an important educational goal with a long and substantial research history. Indeed, the goal preparing learners to be able to effectively deal with ever increasing and complex problems of the modern world is more and more a concern of business and political leaders as well as educators.
Many corporate, government, and nonprofit professional organizations worldwide have called for expanded attention to education for creativity. Creativity, knowledge, and access to information are “powerful drivers of development” and “Creativity is the key resource in the knowledge economy, leading to innovation and technological change and conferring competitive advantage on businesses and national economies” (United Nations Committee on Trade and Development and the UNDP Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, 2008, p. 202).
What is known about creativity and CPS is that it is a complex phenomenon, involving skills of both idea generation and evaluation. Generative thinking involves developing many new possibilities. Generation of ideas is an open exploration or search for ideas in which a person generates many ideas (fluency in thinking), varied ideas and new perspectives (flexibility), and unusual or novel ideas (originality). According to Treffinger and Isaksen (2005), generating ideas is viewed by many people as “creative,” and is sometimes (in error) equated with “brainstorming.” Generating ideas is but one important component and stage in CPS and brainstorming is one specific tool (among many) for generating options. (…)
In this study, the question was what effect mood would have on both generative and evaluative thinking. Would the effects be the same? Or, would positive or neutral moods affect generative and evaluative thinking in different ways? The mood literature suggested that a positive mood would result in more ideas being generated (Fredrickson, 2001; Isen et al., 1987). The creative problem-solving literature clearly argues for the avoidance of negative attitudes and negative, judgmental, evaluative comments during idea generation stages (Guilford, 1962; Isaksen, Dorval, & Treffinger, 2000; Osborn, 1966; Sternberg & Lubart, 1996).
Thus, it was hypothesized that a positive mood condition would result in a greater number of ideas being generated. This hypothesis was supported. The main effect of mood on fluency was statistically significant with the positive mood group generating more ideas than students in the neutral condition. This result was also evident in the interaction effect means, with the mean of the positive-mood-solutions group greater by more than four and two ideas, respectively, compared with the positive-mood-advantages and positive-mood-disadvantages groups. (…)
Effects of Positive Mood on Generative and Evaluative Thinking in Creative Problem Solving
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