Happiness: Good for Creativity, Bad for Single-Minded Focus

I’m a happy person, and always looking to become even happier. Scientific American magazine reports that there’s another good reason to be happy: it improves your creative habit. And for better or worse, being happy might make tunnel-vision focus more difficult.

The results suggest that an upbeat mood makes people more receptive to information of all kinds, says psychologist Adam Anderson, co-author of the study published online by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. "With positive mood, you actually get more access to things you would normally ignore," he says. "Instead of looking through a porthole, you have a landscape or panoramic view of the world."

Researchers have long proposed that negative emotions give people a kind of tunnel vision or filter on their attention, Anderson says. Positive moods break down that filter, which enhances creativity but prevents laserlike focus, such as that needed to recognize target letters in the second task, he says.

(Hat tip: Happiness & Public Policy)

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