• The effect of negative self-referential mood and depression upon creative processes related to change in psychotherapy

      Blundo, Robert George; Altstein, Howard (1992)
      The present study uses the creative processing of information as a means of understanding the cognitive processes involved in therapeutic change during a depressive episode. The focus was on the consequences of cognitive content and moods on the enhancement or inhibition of the creative processing of information. It was hypothesized that the negative self-referential cognitive content associated with depression would inhibit the processing of information creatively. The first Study looked at the effect of induced negative and positive self-referential content and mood, negative and positive content and mood related to viewing the circumstances of others, and the effect of high and low arousal. Female student volunteers (105) were randomly assigned to one of these seven inductions and then completed the Remote Associates Test. The findings did not show a significant difference between these conditions. A Pearson correlation demonstrated a marginal relationship between subjects who reported their moods as negative and lower creative performance. To determine if naturally occurring negative self-referential thoughts would inhibit creativity, a second group of subjects were assigned to either the dysphoric or nondysphoric group based on their initial Beck Depression Inventory scores. To determine if this hypothesized inhibiting negative content could be reversed, one half of both the dysphoric and nondysphoric subjects were assigned to a positive self-referential induction prior to completing the creative task. A third group of subjects who had scored dysphoric during the initial screening were found to have scored nondysphoric when they completed the creativity task. No significant differences were found between the three groups. Contrasts demonstrated that those subjects in the third group undergoing affect-repair and who had received the positive induction performed significantly better than group members who had not received the positive induction. This suggests that interventions that enhance or help initiate affect-repair could benefit depressed individuals. Limitations suggest that the concept of creativity may be too general a description of more specific cognitive processes that are biasing in their effect. Change might best be considered the process of overcoming these biases. Future research might consider how this takes place.