Positive Emotions’ Effect on Buffering and Creativity: An Experimental Design
Extending beyond the Undoing Hypothesis and the Broaden-and-Build theory, this experimental design tested whether participants induced with a positive emotion would respond less, using self-report measures, to a mild achievement and social stressor compared to those in a neutral condition. Compared to a neutral condition, participants induced with a positive emotion reported enhanced positive affect. However, participants in the positive condition compared to participants in the neutral condition did not demonstrate any differences in their emotional response to a mild stressor of listing words that begin with a “J” for two minutes while being recorded. Results failed to yield conclusive evidence of buffering, but successfully induced positive affect as well as induced a mild stressor. Additional data suggests that participants induced with a positive emotion listed more J-words during the stressor task, thereby supporting the Broaden-and Build theory. Suggestions for further research include analyzing responses to different stressors that are more sensitive to creativity and cognitive flexibility as well as exploring how trait based optimism rather than emotionally induced positive emotions may act as a buffer.