Positive affect improves creative problem solving and influences reported source of practice satisfaction in physicians

Abstract

A study investigated whether creative problem solving and reported sources of satisfaction from the practice of medicine are influenced by the induction of positive affect among physicians. Physicians randomly assigned to the positive affect group received a small package of candy. The control group received no treatment. The affect group scored better on the creativity measure than did the control group, (p=0.028, one-tailed). Regarding practice satisfaction, all physicians perceived humanism as more important than extrinsic motivation as a source of satisfaction from the practice of medicine (p<0.001). However, a significant interaction between affect and source of satisfaction revealed that the affect group attributed more relative importance to humanism and less relative importance to extrinsic motivation compared with the control group (p=0.04). In contrast, physicians in a third condition, in which they read phrases reflective of the humanistic satisfactions from medicine, did not differ from the control group in the creativity test or in the practice-satisfaction questionnaire. We conclude that induction of positive affect among physicians can improve their creative problem solving and can influence the sources of practice satisfaction they report.

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Correspondence to Carlos A. Estrada.

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We are indebted to Drs. Carlos Petrozzi and Philip Dorman for reviewing the manuscript, and to Dr. Jennie Andresen for preparing the material used in this study.

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Estrada, C.A., Isen, A.M. & Young, M.J. Positive affect improves creative problem solving and influences reported source of practice satisfaction in physicians. Motiv Emot 18, 285–299 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02856470

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Keywords

  • Positive Affect
  • General Internal Medicine
  • Neutral Word
  • Extrinsic Motivation
  • Word Association