No. 1 (2023)

Being bored, happy or focused – which is best for creative thinking? How different emotional states influence creativity

Anke Zeißig
Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus-Senftenberg
Sebastian Pannasch
Technische Universität Dresden

Published 2023-03-09


  • Boredom,
  • Creativity,
  • Emotion Induction,
  • Concentration,
  • Joy,
  • Video
  • ...More

How to Cite

Zeißig, A., & Pannasch, S. (2023). Being bored, happy or focused – which is best for creative thinking? How different emotional states influence creativity. Journal of Boredom Studies, (1). Retrieved from


We aim to extend the body of research on boredom as a potentially creativity-enhancing state. Therefore, 124 students were assigned to one of five 6-minute interventions (boredom-discomfort, boredom-equanimity, boredom-continuation, joy, and concentration) and the effects on figural as well as verbal fluency and diversity as measures of creativity were examined. It was verified whether the emotional state changed during the intervention. In addition, the emotional dimensions, valence, arousal, and alertness were controlled before and after the test. Boredom-discomfort, joy, and concentration altered the emotion experienced during the intervention in the intended way. The boredom-equanimity and boredom-continuation groups served as control conditions for various boredom states, and less boredom resulted for subjects in these groups. Figural and verbal measures of creativity were differently influenced by the interventions. For verbal fluency, we obtained a significant interaction between time and group, in particular, the performance differed between the intervention with either concentration, or joy. Verbal creativity decreased after intervention in all groups, most for joy and boredom-discomfort groups and least for concentration. In contrast, figural performance increased in four groups, most for boredom-discomfort but not for concentration. Subsequent analyses revealed significant interaction effects between time and group with respect to both verbal and figural measures of creativity. The interventions had not only short-term effects on subjects' emotions but also, in some cases, a significant longer-term impact on emotion dimensions at the end of the study. After discussing methodological aspects, conclusions are drawn for further research approaches.


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