The Creative State of Mind: Penetrating creativity in the here and now


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Have you ever replaced a broken part of something to avoid costly repair? Come up with a fun game for your pussy? Written a silly poem for your grandpa’s 69th birthday? These activities are examples of creative thinking. However, generating creative ideas does not always come easily, just like your mind can be blank during a work meeting and full of ideas under a hot shower. This thesis investigates how we experience being creative in the moment and which activities may spark a more creative state of mind.

I collected data from over 700 participants from across Europe and found that being in a creative state of mind broadens the perspective quite literally, and the broader perspective may help us generate ideas that are more creative. On the other hand, the creative state of mind may feel unpleasant. Many people like to have their lives organized and they avoid uncertainty. With such preferences, creative explorations can feel too intimidating.

I also reviewed data from over 13 000 participants collected in 141 studies and found that engaging in these four main activities may spark a more creative state of mind: functioning under tight restrictions or in complete freedom from them, thinking in more general and broad categories, striving to be unique, and experiencing situations that challenge our way of perceiving the world.

Altogether, this thesis shows that the creative state of mind fluctuates from moment to moment. Being aware of this may bring us more joy and pleasure in our everyday creative challenges.
Originele taal-2English
KwalificatieDoctor of Philosophy
Toekennende instantie
  • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  • Nijstad, Bernard, Supervisor
  • Rietzschel, Eric, Co-supervisor
Datum van toekenning9-nov.-2023
Plaats van publicatie[Groningen]
StatusPublished - 2023

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