Emotional Similarities

In both the creativity and humor fields, emotional themes of delight, surprise, and enjoyment are found. As noted earlier, Guilford discussed the delight and surprise that often accompanied divergent thinking in the form of semantic transformations. Frank Wicker stated that enjoyment of humor is in part an aesthetic enjoyment of a creative product. Several classic theories, including Freud's, emphasized the relaxing and

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emotion-relieving characteristics of humor. Unfortunately, these theories are typically not consistent in whether they refer to the humor producer, the humor appreciator, or both. But in any case, relaxation, emotional release or liberation' from the bounds of rational thinking are consistent themes in classic humor theories. Thus, the joy of discovery seems to be a fairly common emotional theme in both humor and creativity. The discovery can be tiny or grand, but is typically accompanied by some delight, surprise, and enjoyment.

A second important area related to emotional similarities between the fields of humor and creativity lies in the research examining the effects of mood. Generally, results reliably show that individuals in positive mood states are more creative on a range of tasks. Some research shows that engaging in creative tasks can lead to a good mood. It is possible that positive mood could result in a self-instruction to be less critical; if that were true, one would expect greater ideational fluency as a result of lower self-censorship of ideas.

In 2006, Allan Filipowicz reviewed a considerable amount of the literature about the effects of positive mood (also called positive affect) upon creativity; his conclusion was that positive mood generally leads to higher creativity, but occasionally to lower creativity. In this body of research, positive mood has been manipulated in several different ways: by winning a small prize, being given a cookie or candy, being asked to imagine pleasant experiences, etc. But a complication in quite a few studies of the effects of positive mood upon creativity is that mood is induced by having participants watch humorous videos, or exposing them to other forms of humor in order to improve their moods. This is troublesome methodologically when we try to examine emotional similarities between humor and creativity, because the difference, if any, between humor and good mood is unclear.

The above research on the effects of mood has often focused on mood as a transitory experience, or a psychological state. Another related topic is the concept of positive affect as a psychological trait, or a long-lasting attribute of one's personality. For example, in 2008, Tammy Pannels and Amy Claxton Kozbelt and Nishioka concentrated on happiness as a positive personality characteristic; their findings were consistent with several theories suggesting that happiness should have a direct positive effect upon creative cognitive processes. Specifically, these authors found a moderate positive correlation (0.34) between happiness scores and creative ideation scores. Trait happiness might be considered to be related to the trait of cheerfulness, which has been studied quite extensively by Willibald Ruch and his colleagues in their development of the State-Trait-Cheerfulness Inventory (STCI), one of many measures of sense of humor. Interestingly, in one study using the STCI discussed by Ruch, the seriousness' scale was a better predictor of humor production (e.g., creating captions for cartoons) than the cheerfulness scale, although seriousness was associated with lower humor production.

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