Executive approaches to creativity emphasize that generating creative ideas can be hard and requires mental effort. Few studies, however, have examined effort-related physiological activity during creativity tasks. Using motivational intensity theory as a framework, we examined predictors of effort-related cardiac activity during a creative challenge. A sample of 111 adults completed a divergent thinking task. Sympathetic (PEP and RZ) and parasympathetic (RSA and RMSSD) outcomes were assessed using impedance cardiography. As predicted, people with high creative achievement (measured with the Creative Achievement Questionnaire) showed significantly greater increases in sympathetic activity from baseline to task, reflecting higher effort. People with more creative achievements generated ideas that were significantly more creative, and creative performance correlated marginally with PEP and RZ. The results support the view that creative thought can be a mental challenge.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Neuroscience
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology