Flow, affect, and visual creativity

Genevieve M. Cseh, Louise H. Phillips, David G. Pearson* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Flow (being in the zone) is purported to have positive consequences in terms of affect and performance; however, there is no empirical evidence about these links in visual creativity. Positive affect often – but inconsistently – facilitates creativity, and both may be linked to experiencing flow. This study aimed to determine relationships between these variables within visual creativity. Participants performed the creative mental synthesis task to simulate the creative process. Affect change (pre- vs. post-task) and flow were measured via questionnaires. The creativity of synthesis drawings was rated objectively and subjectively by judges. Findings empirically demonstrate that flow is related to affect improvement during visual creativity. Affect change was linked to productivity and self-rated creativity, but no other objective or subjective performance measures. Flow was unrelated to all external performance measures, but was highly correlated with self-rated creativity; flow may therefore motivate perseverance toward eventual excellence rather than provide direct cognitive enhancement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-291
Number of pages11
JournalCognition & Emotion
Issue number2
Early online date13 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • flow
  • affect
  • visual creativity
  • mental synthesis
  • creativity-mood relationship


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