Affect, Psychological Well-Being and Creativity: Results of a Field Study

Article excerpt

This research provides an initial opportunity to simultaneously examine the relative contributions of psychological well-being, affective disposition, and affective mood as correlates of creativity. Bivariate correlational analysis demonstrated that psychological well-being and positive mood state, but not positive affective disposition, were related to creativity. Using multiple regression analysis, it was found that psychological well-being was positively related to creativity, even when controlling for positive mood state and positive affective disposition. Implications and limitations of these findings are discussed.

"I created you while I was happy, [not] while I was sad, with so many incidents, so many details. And, for me, the whole of you has been transformed into feeling."

~ Constantine Peter Cavafy [In the Same Space, 1929]


It is widely acknowledged that enhancing the creative capabilities of employees is a necessary step if organizations are to achieve success and competitive advantage (Burnside, 1990; Shalley, 1995). Similarly, at the individual level, creative employees are typically assumed to be more productive (Amabile, 1983). Thus, employee creativity is generally accepted to have benefits for both the individual and organization (Amabile, 1983; Ford, 1996; Oldham & Cummings, 1996). Although, ultimately, assessments of creativity are subjective (Amabile, 1983), Oldham and Cummings (1996, p. 608) suggest that creative ideas, products and procedures must satisfy two conditions. First, they must be original and novel. Second, they must be seen as being relevant and useful. Thus, creative employees are those who suggest novel and useful products, ideas, or procedures that provide their firm with important raw material for subsequent development and possible implementation (Amabile, 1987; Oldham & Cummings, 1996; Staw, 1990; Woodman, Sawyer, & Griffin, 1993).

While prior research has recognized the theoretical overall importance of affect as a possible determinant of creative accomplishment (Amabile, 1988; Forgas, 1991; Isen, Daubman, & Nowicki, 1987), the field has been less successful in actually distinguishing among various dispositional and situational influences of affect on creativity (Clark & Isen, 1982; Isen et al., 1987; Oldham & Cummings, 1996). As a result, research has primarily concentrated on the diffusion and adoption phases of the creative process, to the relative neglect of influences such as affect and well-being (Damanpour, 1991), To help address this research limitation, the present study affords an initial opportunity to simultaneously examine the relative contribution of psychological well-being, affective disposition, and affective mood as correlates of creativity. We now provide the basis for why relations may exist among positive affective disposition, psychological well-being, positive affective mood, and creativity.

Affect and Creativity

George (1996, p. 145) defined affect as "a broad, generic term that covers both the intense feelings and reactions people have, which are commonly referred to as emotions, and the less intense, but no less important feelings often called moods." Affect is typically divided into positive (PA) and negative (NA) factors, with separate hypotheses for each of the dimensions (Burke, Brief, & George, 1993; George, 1989; Watson & Tellegen, 1985). As typically measured, affect is often seen as measuring activation or arousal (Watson & Tellegen, 1985; Wright & Staw, 1999). More specifically, PA scales measure the extent to which an individual experiences positive feelings. High PAs experience a good deal of positive feelings, such as, "active," "enthusiastic," and "interested." In addition, high PAs tend to be positively engaged in, and feel good about, activities in which they are involved (George, 1996). Alternatively, low PAs are best characterized by the absence of positive emotions, such as "bored," and "droopy. …