Psychology of Creativity: Can Watching
a Comedy Film Make You More Creative?
You are having writer's block. You are staring at your computer screen
and you cannot think of what to write next. You have been working on a
novel for more than two years, and now it is quite frustrating that you
cannot complete the last several pages of the novel. You decide to view a
comedy film. The movie makes you laugh a great deal. It makes you feel
better. You go back to your computer. You are finding that it is much
easier to write, and you feel you are very creative in what you write. You
are able to finish the novel in several hours. Did the comedy film make
you think more creatively?
In the first two experiments, Isen, Daubman, and Nowicki (1987) found
that people who watched a comedy film were more likely to solve a
problem requiring a creative solution than people who watched a neutral
film. Their fourth experiment involved a comedy film and the Remote
Associates Test. The mean number of items correct on this test was
higher for people who watched a comedy film than for people who did not
watch a comedy film. (1) The hypothesis was that positive emotion would
foster creativity. Thus, the comedy film may have fostered creative
thinking because it increased positive emotion.
Implications for Fostering Creativity and How to be Creative
These findings have important implications for fostering creativity and
how to be creative. Before we write a poem, essay, or work on a book it
may be good to first view a comedy film. Moreover, if we are working on
a problem at work that requires a creative solution, it may be good to first
view a comedy film. This could increase creative problem solving.
1. See their article for more findings.
Isen, A. M., Daubman, K. A., & Nowicki, G. P. (1987). Positive affect
facilitates creative problem solving. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 52, 1122-1131.