Happy creativity: Listening to happy music facilitates divergent thinking
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- PLoS ONE, 2017, 12 (9)
- Issue Date:
© 2017 Ritter, Ferguson. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Creativity can be considered one of the key competencies for the twenty-first century. It provides us with the capacity to deal with the opportunities and challenges that are part of our complex and fast-changing world. The question as to what facilitates creative cognition—the ability to come up with creative ideas, problem solutions and products—is as old as the human sciences, and various means to enhance creative cognition have been studied. Despite earlier scientific studies demonstrating a beneficial effect of music on cognition, the effect of music listening on creative cognition has remained largely unexplored. The current study experimentally tests whether listening to specific types of music (four classical music excerpts systematically varying on valance and arousal), as compared to a silence control condition, facilitates divergent and convergent creativity. Creativity was higher for participants who listened to ‘happy music’ (i.e., classical music high on arousal and positive mood) while performing the divergent creativity task, than for participants who performed the task in silence. No effect of music was found for convergent creativity. In addition to the scientific contribution, the current findings may have important practical implications. Music listening can be easily integrated into daily life and may provide an innovative means to facilitate creative cognition in an efficient way in various scientific, educational and organizational settings when creative thinking is needed.
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