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• Participants were randomized into groups solving creative or non-creative tasks.
• Creative tasks enhanced positive emotions through an increase in autonomy.
• Creative tasks resulted in lower task absorption than non-creative tasks.
• Results were replicated across four different language samples.
Previous studies have linked positive emotions with creativity, but it remains unknown why creative activities may enhance positive emotions. We tested how creative tasks influence autonomous self-expression and task absorption, and whether this in turn increases positive emotions. Data from 478 participants were divided into four language samples (English, German, Italian, and Polish) and analyzed in a series of multigroup structural equation models. The indirect effects were replicated in all samples. Creative tasks enhanced positive emotions through an increase in autonomy. However, participants who solved creative tasks also reported lower task absorption, and this has hindered their experience of positive emotions. In total, a small increase of positive emotions was recorded for creative tasks in comparison to non-creative ones. We suggest that creative activities may support autonomous functioning and enhance positive emotions, given that participants will stay sufficiently focused on the task.
Journal: Thinking Skills and Creativity - Volume 19, March 2016, Pages 188–197