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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01781

Let’s Read a Poem! What Type of Poetry Boosts Creativity?

  • 1University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Poland

Poetry is one of the most creative uses of language. Yet the influence of poetry on creativity has received little attention. The present research aimed to determine how the reception of different types of poetry affect creativity levels. In two experimental studies, participants were assigned to two conditions: poetry reading and non-poetic text reading. Participants read poems (Study 1 = narrative/open metaphors; Study 2 = descriptive/conventional metaphors) or control pieces of non-poetic text. Before and after the reading manipulation, participants were given a test to determine levels of divergent thinking (DT; i.e., fluency, flexibility, originality). Additionally, in both studies, the impact of frequent contact with poetry was examined. In Study 1 (N = 107), participants showed increased fluency and flexibility after reading a narrative poem, while participants who read the non-poetic text showed a decrease in fluency and originality. In Study 2 (N = 131) reception of conventional, closed metaphorization significantly lowered fluency and flexibility of thinking (compared to reading non-poetic text). The most critical finding was that poetry exposure could either increase or decrease creativity level depending on the type of poetic metaphors and style of poetic narration. Furthermore, results indicate that long-term exposure to poetry is associated with creativity. This interest in poetry can be explained by an ability to immerse oneself in a poetry content (i.e., a type of empathy) and the need for cognitive stimulation. Thus, this paper contributes a new perspective on exposure to poetry in the context of creativity and discusses possible individual differences that may affect how this type of art is received. However, future research is necessary to examine these associations further.

Keywords: creativity, divergent thinking, metaphor, Poetry reception, Language

Received: 30 Apr 2018; Accepted: 03 Sep 2018.

Edited by:

Ian Hocking, Canterbury Christ Church University, United Kingdom

Reviewed by:

Paul M. Camic, Canterbury Christ Church University, United Kingdom
Shelly M. Kemp, University of Chester, United Kingdom  

Copyright: © 2018 Osowiecka and Kolańczyk. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Ms. Małgorzata Osowiecka, University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw, Poland, maggieosa@gmail.com