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Creativity and Mental Health

School of Applied Sciences

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Dr L Carruthers , Dr R MacLean No more applications being accepted

About the Project

We would like to hear from applicants who would be interested in investigating the possible effects that short, easy creativity tasks can have on mood/anxiety/mental health. For example, based on previous research it is possible that engaging in creativity tasks leads to changes in mood/anxiety/mental health due to enjoyment, cognitive distraction, incubation effects, or other stress relieving properties. Different types of tasks, duration, and instruction can be explored, but given that this is a self-funded position, the student would be encouraged to choose the specific factors/interventions that they would like to investigate based on their reading, within the broad parameters of quantitative methods and the field of psychology.
The PhD student will be required to conduct a thorough literature review and will work towards identifying the most valid and reliable method for remotely collecting data in a quantitative, scientific, and ecologically valid manner. There are many creativity tests and questionnaires that can be distributed online, for example. Data collection will be followed by thorough analysis to determine the next steps of the study, the ultimate goal being the production of a thesis, journal articles, and a public document that advises on the use of short creativity tasks as method to maintain mental health (should results support this outcome).

Applications for full-time and part-time study will be accepted.

Academic qualifications
A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in Psychology with a good fundamental knowledge of cognition and quantitative research methods.

English language requirement
IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.

Essential attributes:
• Experience of fundamental quantitative research processes
• Competent in research planning, execution, and reporting
• Knowledge of psychology research ethics and methods, and quantitative data analysis using appropriate software (e.g., SPSS, R)
• Good written and oral communication skills
• Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project
• Good time management

Desirable attributes:
An understanding of the field of creativity within psychology would be beneficial but not essential

Funding Notes

This is an unfunded position

Please quote project code SAS0065 in your enquiry and application.

• Completed application form
• CV
• 2 academic references, using the Postgraduate Educational Reference Form (Found on the application process page)
• A personal research statement (This should include (a) a brief description of your relevant experience and skills, (b) an indication of what you would uniquely bring to the project and (c) a statement of how this project fits with your future direction.)
• Evidence of proficiency in English (if appropriate)


Baird, B., Smallwood, J., Mrazek, M. D., Kam, J. W., Franklin, M. S., & Schooler, J. W. (2012). Inspired by distraction: mind wandering facilitates creative incubation. Psychological Science, 23(10), 1117-1122.

Carruthers, L. (2016). Creativity and attention: A multi-method investigation.Available here:

George, J. M., & Zhou, J. (2002). Understanding when bad moods foster creativity and good ones don't: the role of context and clarity of feelings. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87(4), 687.

Kaufman, J. C., Plucker, J. A. & Baer, J. (2008). Essentials of Creativity Assessment. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Lin, W. L., Tsai, P. H., Lin, H. Y., & Chen, H. C. (2014). How does emotion influence different creative performances? The mediating role of cognitive flexibility. Cognition & Emotion, 28(5), 834-844.

Simonton, D. K. (2014). Can creative productivity be both positively and negatively correlated with psychopathology? Yes!. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 455.

Tidikis, V., Ash, I. K., & Collier, A. F. (2017). The interaction of emotional valence and arousal on attentional breadth and creative task performance. Creativity Research Journal, 29(3), 313-330.
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