A little more stress can help you produce more creative work, new research from Singapore Management University shows. On Pacific Standard, Tom Jacobs explores the findings to explain why:
274 Taiwanese university students…filed out a questionnaire designed to measure intrinsic neuroticism. They were then asked to recall a happy, worrisome, or neutral experience…The result: Under the heavy cognitive load, neurotic people displayed more flexible thinking after recalling worrisome events. This was in contrast to people low on the neuroticism scale, who displayed the most mental flexibility after recalling neutral events.
It all suggests that, in the researchers’ words, “Individuals vary in their preferences for experiencing happy or worrisome emotions prior to performing a creativity task.” If worry is your default state, intensifying it slightly may actually prompt more flexible thinking.
As Jacobs explains: the results of this study are entirely personal, preferences vary by each individual. But if you’re an anxious person, embrace your natural tendencies rather than getting in the “perfect” mindset to create.