May 2, 2013
Self-Affirmation Improves Problem-Solving Under Stress
Affirming personal values improves mood, problem solving skills in stressed students
If chronic stress is weighing down your problem-solving skills, self-affirmation may give your skills a boost, according to research published May 1 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by David Creswell and colleagues from Carnegie Mellon University.Previous studies have shown that self-affirmation exercises can reduce acute stress, but the link between these improvements and chronic stress-related effects was unknown. In the current research, a group of students rated their levels of stress over the last month, and half the group then performed a self-affirmation exercise. Students who had completed this exercise scored significantly higher on a subsequent problem-solving task under pressure than those who had not performed the self-affirmation.
The authors conclude, "A brief self-affirmation activity is sufficient to buffer the negative effects of chronic stress on task performance and can improve the ability to solve problems in a flexible manner during high stress periods. Our study suggests that self-affirmation may increase creativity and insight in stressed individuals."
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