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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01517

Acute Stress Shapes Creative Cognition in Trait Anxiety

 Haijun Duan1*,  Xuewei Wang1, Zijuan Wang1, Wenlong Xue1, Yuecui Kan1,  Weiping Hu1 and  Fengqing Zhang2
  • 1Shaanxi Normal University, China
  • 2Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences, Drexel University, United States

This study examined the cognitive mechanism underlying acute stress in creative cognition among individuals with high and low trait anxiety. Specifically, cognitive inhibition was assessed using the flanker task during acute stress. Fifty-two participants (26 high trait anxiety, 26 low trait anxiety) (mean age = 18.94 years) underwent stress induction via the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). They all completed the Alternative Uses Test (AUT) and the Remote Associates Test (RAT) before and after the TSST. Biochemical markers (salivary cortisol and salivary alpha amylase) were recorded at regular intervals. The results showed that cognitive inhibition was influenced by trait anxiety and acute stress. Compared to before experiencing acute stress, there was a lack of cognitive inhibition in low trait anxious individuals and they performed better in AUT (fluency) after acute stress, whereas high trait anxious individuals showed a decreased interference effect and reduced performance in AUT (fluency, flexibility, and originality). In the RAT, there were shorter response times and increased accuracy after acute stress in both high and low trait anxiety groups. Thus, we suggest that cognitive control, which modulates changes in acute stress, influences creative cognition. These findings provide evidence that inhibition control mediates the effect of stress on the creativity of individuals with different trait anxiety.

Keywords: acute stress, creative cognition, Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), Alternative uses test, Remote Associates Test

Received: 28 Sep 2018; Accepted: 17 Jun 2019.

Edited by:

Wangbing Shen, Hohai University, China

Reviewed by:

Nick Berggren, Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom
Xiang ZHOU, Nankai University, China
Xiaoyang Yang, Sichuan Normal University, China  

Copyright: © 2019 Duan, Wang, Wang, Xue, Kan, Hu and Zhang. 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: Dr. Haijun Duan, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an, China, duanhj@126.com