Psychology of Creativity: Can Watching a Comedy Film Make You More Creative?

By Brad Bell

You are having writer’s block.  You are staring at your computer screen and you cannot think of what to write next.  You have been working on a novel for more than two years, and now it is quite frustrating that you cannot complete the last several pages of the novel.  You decide to view a comedy film.  The movie makes you laugh a great deal.  It makes you feel better.  You go back to your computer.  You are finding that it is much easier to write, and you feel you are very creative in what you write.  You are able to finish the novel in several hours.  Did the comedy film make
you think more creatively?

In the first two experiments, Isen, Daubman, and Nowicki (1987) found that people who watched a comedy film were more likely to solve a problem requiring a creative solution than people who watched a neutral film.  Their fourth experiment involved a comedy film and the Remote Associates Test.  The mean number of items correct on this test was higher for people who watched a comedy film than for people who did not watch a comedy film. (1)  The hypothesis was that positive emotion would foster creativity.  Thus, the comedy film may have fostered creative thinking because it increased positive emotion.

Implications for Fostering Creativity and How to be Creative

These findings have important implications for fostering creativity and how to be creative.  Before we write a poem,  essay, or work on a book it may be good to first view a comedy film.  Moreover, if we are working on a problem at work that requires a creative solution, it may be good to first view a comedy film.  This could increase creative problem solving.

Notes

1.  See their article for more findings.  

References

Isen, A. M., Daubman, K. A., & Nowicki, G. P. (1987).  Positive affect
facilitates creative problem solving.  Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology
52, 1122-1131.