I want to be creative: exploring the role of hedonic contingency theory in the positive mood-cognitive flexibility link.J Pers Soc Psychol 2008; 94(2):214-30JP
Three studies explored the role of hedonic contingency theory as an explanation for the link between positive mood and cognitive flexibility. Study 1 examined the determinants of activity choice for participants in happy, sad, or neutral moods. Consistent with hedonic contingency theory, happy participants weighted potential for creativity as well as the pleasantness of the task more heavily in their preference ratings. In Study 2, participants were given either a neutral or mood-threatening item generation task to perform. Results illustrated that happy participants exhibited greater cognitive flexibility in all cases; when confronted with a potentially mood-threatening task, happy participants were able to creatively transform the task so as to maintain positive mood and interest. Finally, Study 3 manipulated participants' beliefs that moods could or could not be altered. Results replicated the standard positive mood-increased cognitive flexibility effect in the nonmood-freezing condition, but no effects of mood on creativity were found in the mood-freezing condition. These studies indicate that the hedonic contingency theory may be an important contributing mechanism behind the positive mood-cognitive flexibility link.