Ambivalence and creativity

The Economist points to a recent interesting article on The effects of emotional ambivalence on creativity in the Academy of Management Journal [49(5) 1016 – 1030] by Christina Ting Fong that suggests that unusual work environments and emotional tension may result in more creativity than a happy workplace.

The paper’s abstract states:

Emotional ambivalence, or the simultaneous experience of positive and negative emotions, is an underexplored emotional state in organizations. The results from two laboratory experiments demonstrate that individuals experiencing emotional ambivalence are better at recognizing unusual relationships between concepts, therefore showing an ability believed to be important to organizational creativity. Informational theories of emotion suggest that individuals interpret emotional ambivalence, which is perceived to be an unusual emotional experience, as signaling they are in an unusual environment, which in turn increases sensitivity to unusual associations. These results yield important implications regarding how to influence creative performance at work.

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