Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type





Emotions, attention, creativity


The study examined naturally occurring effects of positive affect and anxiety (exam stress at different points in the semester) on attentional performance and creative abilities of undergraduate students. The mood of participants was measured by PANAS and STAI questionnaires. Their attention was tested on the Eriksen Flanker Task, and creativity on the Remote Associates Test (RAT) and Compound Word Problems (CWP). One of the main goals of this study was to verify the prediction based on the Broaden and Build theory of positive resources by Fredrickson (2001). Although the mood manipulation used in this study, that is, placing both testing session in non-stressful and stressful periods of the Fall term was successful, the actual findings are far from the predictions based on the theory. There was an effect of Anxiety Trait on the subjects' performance in the two creative tasks, showing an advantage for people characterized as low in anxiety trait over those characterized as highly in anxiety trait in solving word problems only in the session conducted at the end of the semester. Furthermore only in the first testing session did subjects characterized as highly positive and with low level of anxiety state benefit from greater space between the targets and distractors in the Medium and the Far spacing conditions of the flanker task. Therefore, they showed better inhibitory skills than participants with high anxiety state score and with low level of Positive affect. The project proposes the load theory of attention by Lavie (1995) as an alternative explanation of the achieved results.



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