A nonlinear relationship has been found between creativity and stress in some studies. Specifically, divergent thinking performance (on verbal tasks) seems to be lower in individuals in conditions of high stress and low stress than in participants in moderate conditions, in an inverted 'U' shaped relationship (corresponding to the classic Yerkes-Dodson law relating arousal and general task performance). Similarly, fluency has shown to be highest in individuals in a condition of moderate stress activation. Research on bipolar disorder and its relationship with creativity has shown that the elevation of mood that comes with the disorder may enhance creative behavior. In sum, moderate levels of stress may provide the arousal needed for creative tasks without diminishing cognitive resources.
In general, research on stress states and creativity suggest that while intense stress state lessens creativity, especially for complex and demanding tasks, the effects of moderate and low levels of stress are less clear. One of the conclusions that can be drawn from various studies is that the relationship between stress state and creativity cannot be reduced to a 'negative or positive' issue, and may be influenced by a number of mediators. Some of these mediators are discussed in the next section.
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