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Wild and free: Unpredictability and spaciousness as predictors of creative performance

van Rompay, Thomas J.L., Jol, Tineke
Journal of environmental psychology 2016 v.48 pp. 140-148
cognition, photography, questionnaires, social welfare, visual perception
Inspired by research that demonstrates the positive effects of nature-based imagery on wellbeing and cognitive performance, the current research aims to study to what extent nature imagery can also enhance creative performance. To this end, imagery presenting green settings varying in unpredictability and spaciousness was displayed before and during a creative drawing task in a high school classroom. After completion participants additionally filled out a questionnaire comprising self-report measures for perceived creativity and positive affect. Both unpredictability and spaciousness enhanced creative performance, with images combining these two factors being particularly inspiring. Furthermore, spaciousness resulted in higher self-reported creativity. The effects of unpredictability and spaciousness on positive affect were not significant. These findings demonstrate that nature imagery has the potential to increase creativity in individuals and warrant follow-up studies that may further clarify the role of spaciousness, unpredictability, and potentially other creativity-enhancing features of nature imagery.