Health  Vol.7 No.1 , January 2015
Relation between Stress Conditions, Uncertainty and Incongruity Intolerance, Rigidity and Mental Health: Experimental Demonstrations
An innovative critique of existing studies on creativity has revealed the opportunity of distinguishing between different varieties of creative tasks, and namely creativity for “Continuity”, “Opposition” and “Detachment”, considering relations between products and perceived models. This theoretical contribution has led to a specific evaluation procedure: the COD Creativity test. Considering the influences of dynamic processes on creative processes, it is worth experimentally studying the effects of short-term stress or comfort treatments. The similarities and differences between various existing studies are examined. A non-invasive but effective procedure, compared to classic techniques, is described: the “drawing recall” of stressful or relaxing real experiences, accompanied by detailed evaluations of the emotional sphere. In a specific investigation, creativity turned out to be significantly lower after acute stress with respect to comfort treatment. In conclusion, the cognitive, decisional and activity processes involved in creativity operations can be considered as strictly reflecting emotional dynamic processes, as well as the experiences gained during the stress or comfort treatments. Results are explained considering the role of conflict overload in stress as a factor of incongruity and uncertainty intolerance, inhibiting the production of bizarre and unusual ideas and configurations, and thus reducing essential aspects relevant to the evaluation of creativity levels. From clinical point of view, we underline that decades of research has generally shown that being more rigid is associated with poorer mental health. Our experimental study gives confirmation of the link between stress and intolerance of uncertainty and incongruity; this correlation could augment the negative impact of stressors on anxiety levels. In summary, people with high level of intolerance of uncertainty and, generally, with high level of intolerance of incongruity, develop mental rigidity, and this traits constellation represent a risk for mental health.

Cite this paper
Biasi, V. , Bonaiuto, P. and Levin, J. (2015) Relation between Stress Conditions, Uncertainty and Incongruity Intolerance, Rigidity and Mental Health: Experimental Demonstrations. Health, 7, 71-84. doi: 10.4236/health.2015.71009.
[1]   Guilford, J.P. (1950) Creativity. American Psychologist, 5, 444-454.

[2]   Guilford, J.P. (1956) The Structure of Intellect. Psychological Bulletin, 53, 267-293.

[3]   Guilford, J.P. (1959) Three Faces of Intellect. American Psychologist, 14, 469-479.

[4]   Guilford, J.P. (1959) Traits of Creativity. In: Anderson, H.H., Ed., Creativity and Its Cultivation, Harper & Row, New York, 142-161.

[5]   Guilford, J.P. (1967) The Nature of Human Intelligence. New York, McGraw-Hill.

[6]   Guilford, J.P. (1968) Intelligence, Creativity, and Emotional Implications. Knapp, San Diego.

[7]   Maddi, S.R. (1964) Motivational Aspects of Creativity. Paper presented at the APA Symposium “Current Issues in Creativity Research”, Los Angeles, CA. Also publ. in Journal of Personality, 33, 331-347.

[8]   Hinton, B.L. (1971) Personality factors and resistance to the effects of frustrations on creative problem-solving performance. Journal of Creative Behavior, 5(4), 267-269.

[9]   Runco, M.A. and Albert, R.I., Eds. (1990) Theories of Creativity. Sage, Newbury Park.

[10]   Eysenck, H.J. (1993) Creativity and Personality: Suggestions for a Theory. Psychological Inquiry, 4, 147-178.

[11]   Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997) Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. Harper Collins, New York.

[12]   Falat, M. (1998) Possible Interconnections of the Big Five with Creativity Research. Studia Psychologica, 40, 331-334.

[13]   Falat, M. (2000) Creativity as a Predictor of “Good” Coping? Studia Psychologica, 42, 317-324.

[14]   Sternberg, R.J., Ed. (1999) Handbook of Creativity. Cambridge University Press, New York.

[15]   Legrenzi, P. (2005) Creatività e innovazione (Creativity and Innovation). Il Mulino, Bologna.

[16]   Leith, G. (1972) The Relationships between Intelligence, Personality and Creativity under Two Conditions of Stress. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 42, 240-247.

[17]   Martindale, C. and Greenough, J. (1973) The Differential Effect of Increased Arousal on Creative and Intellectual Performance. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 123, 329-335.

[18]   Dwral, R.L. (1973) The Influence of Psychological Stress upon Creative Thinking. Polish Psychological Bulletin, 4, 125-129.

[19]   Krampen, G. (1997) Promotion of Creativity (Divergent Productions) and Convergent Productions by Systematic Relaxation Exercises: Empirical Evidence from Five Experimental Studies with Children, Young Adults and Elderly. European Journal of Personality, 11, 83-99.<83::AID-PER280>3.0.CO;2-5

[20]   Khasky, A.D. and Smith, I.C. (1999) Stress, Relaxation States and Creativity. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 88, 409- 416.

[21]   Suedfeld, P., Metcalfe, J. and Bluck, S. (1987) Enhancement of Scientific Creativity by Flotation REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique). Journal of Environmental Psychology, 7, 219-231.

[22]   Forgays, D.G. and Forgays, D.K. (1992) Creativity Enhancement through Flotation Isolation. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 12, 329-335.

[23]   Forgays, D.G. and Forgays, D.K. (1992) Flotation Isolation: Anxiety Reducer and Creativity Enhancer. Proceedings of the 13th International STAR Conference, Leuven, 59

[24]   Isen, A.M., Dabman, K.A. and Nowicki, G.P. (1987) Positive Affect Facilitates Creative Problem Solving. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 1122-1131.

[25]   Kaufmann, G. and Vosburg, S.K. (1997) “Paradoxical” Mood Effects on Creative Problem-Solving. Cognition and Emotion, 11, 151-170.

[26]   Vosburg, S.K. (1998) The Effects of Positive and Negative Mood on Divergent-Thinking Performance. Creativity Research Journal, 11, 165-172.

[27]   Isen, A.M. (1999) On the Relationship between Affect and Creative Problem Solving. In: Russ, S., Ed., Affect, Creative Experience and Psychological Adjustment, Taylor & Francis, Philadelphia, 3-17.

[28]   Isen, A.M. (2004) Some Perspectives on Positive Feelings and Emotions: Positive Affect Facilitates Thinking and Problem Solving. In: Manstead, A.S.R., Frijda, N., Fisher, A., Eds., Feelings and Emotions: The Amsterdam Symposium, Cambridge University Press, New York, 263-281.

[29]   Russell, J.A. (1979) Affective Space Is Bipolar. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 345-356.

[30]   Isen, A.M. and Gorgoglione, J.M. (1983) Some Specific Effects of Four Affect-Induction Procedures. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 9, 136-143.

[31]   Duncker, K. (1945) On Problem-Solving. Psychological Monographs, 58, 1-113.

[32]   Simonton, D.K. (1997) Genius and Creativity. Selected Papers, Ablex, Greenwich, CT.

[33]   Biasi, V. (1999) Book Review for: D.K. Simonton, Genius & Creativity. Selected Papers, Ablex, Greenwich, CT, 1997. Rassegna di Psicologia, 16, 170-174.

[34]   Smith, R.M. (1968) Characteristics of Creativity Research. Perceptual Motor Skills, 26, 698.

[35]   Bonaiuto, P. (1970) Indicazioni psicologiche per la didattica delle arti visive (Psychological Indications for Visual Art Education). La Biennale di Venezia, 21, 18-42.

[36]   Bartoli, G. (2005) Psicolologia della creatività. Le condotte artistiche e scientifiche (Psychology of Creativity. Artistic and Scientific Performances). Monolite, Rome.

[37]   Bonaiuto, P. (1965) Tavola d’inquadramento e di previsione degli “Effetti di campo” e dinamica delle qualità fenomeniche (Table to Frame and Forecast the “Field Effects” and Dynamics of Phenomenal Qualities). Giornale di Psichiatria e Neuropatologia, 93, 1443-1685.

[38]   Bonaiuto, P. (1969) Sulle ricerche psicologiche europee in tema di monotonia percettiva e motoria (“Sensory Deprivation” e simili). Il processo della saturazione di qualità fenomeniche [On European Psychological Research regarding Perceptual and Motor Monotony (Sensory Deprivation and the Like). The Process of Saturation of Phenomenal Qualities]. Rassegna Neuropsichiatria, 24, 1-114.

[39]   Torrance, E.P. (1966) Torrance Test of Creative Thinking. Directions Manual and Scoring Guide. Personnel Press, Lexington.

[40]   Torrance, E.P. (1966) Torrance Test of Creative Thinking. Norms-Technical Manual—Research Edition. Personnel Press, Princeton.

[41]   Tyson, M. (1966) Creativity. In: Foss, B.M., Ed., New Horizons in Psychology, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 167- 182.

[42]   Bonaiuto, P. (1973) Sviluppo di tecniche di valutazione della creatività attraverso prove di “Continuità”, “Opposizione” e “Distacco” dai modelli (Development of Creativity Evaluation Techniques through Trials of “Continuity”, “Opposition” and “Detachment” from Models). Laboratorio di Psicologia, Università degli Studi di Bologna, Bologna.

[43]   Dembo, T. (1931) Der Arger als dynamisches Problem (Anger as a Dynamic Problem). Psychologische Forschung, 15, 1-144.

[44]   Postman, L. and Bruner, J.S. (1948) Perception under Stress. Psychological Review, 55, 314-323.

[45]   Broadbent, D.E. (1971) Decision and Stress. Academic Press, London.

[46]   Evans, G.W. and Carrere, S. (1991) Traffic Congestion, Perceived Control, and Psycho-Physiological Stress among Urban Bus Drivers. Journal of Applied Psychology, 76, 658-663.

[47]   Lang, E. (1993) Personal Communication. Budapest.

[48]   Forgays, D.G. and Forgays, D.K. (1992) Individual Differences in the Responses to the Stress of Extreme Isolation. Comunicazioni Scientifiche di Psicologia Generale, 7, 57-70.

[49]   Baxter, J.C. and Deanovich, B.S. (1970) Anxiety Arousing Effects of Inappropriate Crowding. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 35, 174-178.

[50]   Heimstra, N.H. and McFarling, L.H. (1974) Environmental Psychology. Brooks/Cole, Monterey.

[51]   Novaco, R.W., Stokol, D. and Milanesi, L. (1990) Objective and Subjective Dimensions of Travel Impedance as Determinants of Commuting Stress. American Journal of Community Psychology, 18, 231-257.

[52]   Evans, G.W., Hygge, S. and Bullinger, M. (1995) Chronic Noise and Psychological Stress. Psychological Sciences, 48, 83-92.

[53]   Koslowsky, M. and Krausz, M. (1993) On The Relationship between Commuting, Stress Symptoms, and Attitudinal Measures: A LISREL Application. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 29, 485-492.

[54]   Lefcourt, H.M. and Martin, R.A. (1986) Humor and Life Stress. Antidote to Adversity. Springer, New York.

[55]   Ancona, L. (1972) L’assetto dinamico della motivazione, il conflitto psichico e i meccanismi di difesa (The Dynamic Organization of Motivation, Psychological Conflict and Defence Mechanisms). In: di Ancona Leonardo (a Cura), Ed., Nuove Questioni di Psicologia, Volume I, La Scuola, Brescia, 887-920.

[56]   Palomba, D., Mini, A. and Sarlo, M. (1995) Risposte emozionali a stimuli visivi spiacevoli: Fattori psicofisiologici di mediazione (Emotional Responses to Unpleasant Visual Stimuli: Psychophysiological Mediation Factors). Rivista di Psicologia, 80, 115-116.

[57]   Smock, C.D. (1955) The Influence of Psychological Stress on the “Intolerance of Ambiguity”. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 50, 177-182.

[58]   Bonaiuto, P., Biasi, V., Giannini, A.M., Bonaiuto, M. and Bartoli, G. (1992) Stress, Comfort and Self-Appraisal: A Panoramic Investigation of the Dynamics of Cognitive Processes. In: Forgays, D.G., Sosnowski, T. and Wrzesniewski, K., Eds., Anxiety: Recent Developments in Cognitive, Psychophysiologycal and Health Research, Hemisphere, Washington DC, 75-107.

[59]   Schleifer, L.M. and Amick, B.C. (1989) System Response Time and Method of Pay: Stress Effects in Computer-Based Tasks. International Journal of Human Computer Interaction, 1, 23-39.

[60]   Sherwood, A., Davis, M.R., Dolan, C.A. and Light, K.C. (1992) Cardiovascular Reactivity Assessment: Effects of Choice of Difficulty on Laboratory Task Responses. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 12, 87-94.

[61]   Isen, A.M., Johnson, M.M.S., Mertz, E. and Robinson, G.F. (1985) The Influence of Positive Affect on the Unusualness of Word Associations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 1412-1426.

[62]   Locher, P. (2006) Viewers’ Verbal Reactions to Art: An Essential Component of Experimental Aesthetic Research. In: Gottesdiener, H. and Vilatte, J.-C., Eds., Culture and Communication, IAEA, Avignon, 19-24.

[63]   Bonaiuto, P., Giannini, A.M. and Biasi, V. (2003) Perception Theories and the Environmental Experience. In: Bonnes, M., Lee, T. and Bonaiuto, M., Eds., Psychological Theories for Environmental Issues, Ashgate, Aldershot, 95-136.

[64]   Biasi, V., Bonaiuto, P. and Giannini, A.M. (2010) Measures of Emotional and Motivational Processes Activated by Stress or Comfort Conditions. Key Engineering Materials, 437, 540-544.

[65]   Biasi, V. and Bonaiuto, P. (1997) Color and the Experimental Representation of Stress and Comfort. In: Sivik, L., Ed., Color and Psychology, Scandinavian Color Institute, Stockholm, 59-65.

[66]   Biasi, V. and Bonaiuto, P. (1997) Aesthetic Level of Drawings Made under Conditions of Emotional Activation. In: Dorfman, L., Martindale, C., Leontiev, D., Cuphick, G., Petrov, V. and Machotka, P., Eds., Emotion, Creativity and Art, Volume 1, Perm State Institute of Arts & Culture, Perm, 319-348.

[67]   Biasi, V., Chiappetta Cajola, L. and Bonaiuto, P. (2010) Valutare la formazione degli schemi mentali nei disturbi dell’apprendimento (Evaluating the Formation of Mental Schemata in Learning Disorders). Journal of Educational, Cultural and Psychological Studies, 2, 117-138.

[68]   Suedfeld, P. and Vernon, J. (1965) Stress and Verbal Originality in Sensory Deprivation. Psychological Record, 15, 567-570.

[69]   Ciarrochi, J., Said, T. and Deane, F.P. (2005) When Simplifying Life Is Not So Bad: The Link between Rigidity, Stressful Life Events, and Mental Health in an Undergraduate Population. British Journal of Guidance & Counseling, 33, 185-197.

[70]   Chen, C.Y. and Hong, R.Y. (2010) Intolerance of Uncertainty Moderates the Relation between Negative Life Events and Anxiety. Personality and Individual Differences, 49, 49-53.