Creativity and the pandemic – is there a connection?

Mental Health


A new study investigated whether the COVID-19 pandemic influenced creativity changes in a population of French-speaking individuals.

What is creativity?  The concept of creativity is multifaceted, and people perceive it in different ways. For example, one source describes it as the ability to come up with and recognize useful ideas and alternatives.1  According to another source, creativity is the ability to produce things or concepts that are both appropriate and original.2,3 

Despite its ambiguity, creativity is an important aspect of everyday life. Creativity aids in problem solving, decision making, and discovering new things.3  It also can be a valuable coping strategy for processing unprecedented changes and challenges.3  One major example of an unprecedented challenge is the COVID-19 pandemic, and the changes it brought on society. 

A variety of factors can influence creativity, including personal traits, motivation, and environment.3,4  Current research suggests that the psychological impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on both global and intrapersonal levels were significant, and notably, some researchers believe that these environmental factors may influence creativity.3,5,6 

To study the possible relationship between the pandemic and creativity, researchers administered an online questionnaire to a population of French-speaking people during the first COVID-19 global lockdown.3  The results were published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.3 

The study group, consisting of 551 French-speaking participants were recruited online through social media and were invited to complete the online questionnaire. This questionnaire collected information about the participants’ demographics, physical conditions, self-reported experience of the lockdown, and a variety of metrics designed to measure creativity.3

The participants remained productive during the lockdown; 54 percent worked remotely and 83 percent were involved in some sort of professional activity or commitment.3 

On average, participants reported a decreased mood and increases in free time and stress levels. Participants also reported increased feelings of loneliness and being physically constrained, and these changes were associated with having fewer social interactions and less physical space, respectively.3 

Participants also performed certain creative activities more frequently; these activities included cooking, sports, dance, gardening, and more. The reasoning behind this increased frequency, according to the participants, was having more free time, feeling inspired by the lockdown, and having more opportunities for problem solving. Overall, participants reported an increase in creativity, in addition to no changes in motivation levels, on average.3 

The results of this study suggest that creativity levels may have increased in this group of people following the first lockdown.  More research is needed to determine whether these findings would apply to other populations. Additionally, more research is needed to determine whether these creativity changes took place during subsequent lockdowns. 

References

  1. Franken, R. (1994). Human Motivation (3rd ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Co.  Retrieved online from California State University, Northridge: http://www.csun.edu/~vcpsy00h/creativity/define.htm
  2. Lubart, T., Zensani, F., Barbot, B. (2013). Creative potential and its measurement. Int J Talent Dev. Creat 1:41-50.
  3. Lopez-Persem, A., Bieth, T., Quiet, S., et al (2022, May 10). Through thick and thin: changes in creativity during the first lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic. Front. Psychology. Doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.821550
  4. Da Costa, S., Paez, D., Sanchez, F., et al (2015, December). Personal factors of creativity: A second order meta-analysis. Revista de Psicologia del Trabajo y de las Organizaciones 31(3): 165-173. Doi: 10.1016/j.rpto.2015.06.002
  5. Burhamah, W., AlKhayyat, A., Oroszlanyova, M., et al (2020, December). The psychological burden of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown measures: Experience from 4000 participants. J Affect Disord 277: 977-985. Doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.09.014
  6. Perez-Sobrino, P., Semino, E., Ibarretxe-Antunano, I., et al (2022, March 31). Acting like a Hedgehog in Times of Pandemic: Metaphorical Creativity in the #reframecovid Collection. Metaphor and Symbol 37(2): 127-139. Doi: 10.1080/10926488.2021.1949599

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels





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