How does emotion influence different creative performances? The mediating role of cognitive flexibility

Wei Lun Lin*, Ping Hsun Tsai, Hung Yu Lin, Hsueh Chih Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


Cognitive flexibility is proposed to be one of the factors underlying how positive emotions can improve creativity. However, previous works have seldom set up or empirically measured an independent index to demonstrate its mediating effect, nor have they investigated its mediating role on different types of creative performances, which involve distinct processes. In this study, 120 participants were randomly assigned to positive, neutral or negative affect conditions. Their levels of cognitive flexibility were then measured by a switch task. Finally, their creative performances were calibrated by either an open-ended divergent thinking test or a closed-ended insight problem-solving task. The results showed that positive emotional states could reduce switch costs and enhance both types of creative performances. However, cognitive flexibility exhibited a full mediating effect only on the relationship between positive emotion and insight problem solving, but not between positive emotion and divergent thinking. Divergent thinking was instead more associated with arousal level. These results suggest that emotions might influence different creative performances through distinct mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)834-844
Number of pages11
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Divergent thinking
  • Emotional state
  • Insight problem solving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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