The influence of varying positive affect in approach-motivation intensity on creative idea generation and creative idea evaluation: an fNIRS study

Thinking and Reasoning 29 (1):70-110 (2023)
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Abstract

The aim of this study was to explain previous inconsistent results regarding the effects of positive affect on creative cognition based on the motivational dimensional model of affect theory and provide the underlying neural correlates of the effects of different approach-motivation intensities of positive affect on creative processes (creative idea generation and creative idea evaluation) using the functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) technique. Sixty participants were randomly assigned to three groups (high-approach-motivated positive affect (HAM), low-approach-motivated positive affect (LAM) and affectively neutral state (NS)) to complete corresponding tasks in creative idea generation and creative idea evaluation stages. In the creative idea generation stage, the results indicated that the LAM group achieved a higher performance in flexibility and originality than the NS group. However, compared with the NS group, the LAM group exhibited a lower sensitivity in the creative idea evaluation stage. The fNIRS technique provides an ideal approach with high ecological validity for exploring the issue of affect and creativity. In current study, fNIRS results showed that the HAM group exhibited significantly more activation in the bilateral frontal lobe than the LAM group and NS group in the creative idea generation stage. This result could reflect individuals attempting to overcome a narrowed attentional scope state through the activation of bilateral frontal cortical resources in the creative process. In the creative idea evaluation stage, compared with the NS group, the LAM group showed significant deactivation in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is a brain area associated with executive, controlled processing. Moreover, the approach-motivation intensity altered the connectivity between the left prefrontal cortex and left superior temporal gyrus in the creative idea generation stage. Thus, the influences of positive affect on creative cognitive processes (both creative performance and hemodynamic responses) were modulated by the approach-motivation intensity in the creative idea generation and creative idea evaluation stages.

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