Those Days When People Are Creative: Diary Methods in Creativity Research

  • Marta CzerwonkaEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Creativity and Culture book series (PASCC)


Quantitative diary studies have been increasingly popular in various fields of psychology, mainly in social, developmental, and health psychology. The crucial strength of dairy research is that it relies on less recall than surveys and reduces retrospective biases. Moreover, it offers to examine the day-to-day dynamics of changes at both within- and between-person levels. Diary methodology seems promising for creativity research; it allows investigating cognitive, physiological, emotional, behavioral and social predictors of creative activities and self-perceptions in a natural context. In this chapter, I focus on several methodological issues related to the diary method in creativity research. I review various diary protocols, formats, and technological solutions to designing diary studies. Moreover, I suggest that collecting data with the micro-longitudinal approach and using multilevel modeling procedures is particularly promising for investigating patterns in social creativity research.


Creativity Diary method Intensive longitudinal designs 



This work was supported by a grant obtained from The Maria Grzegorzewska Pedagogical University, Poland (BSTM 1/16-I).


  1. Allport, G. W. (1942). The use of personal documents in psychological science. (Social science research council bulletin, no. 49.). Oxford, UK: Social Science Research Council.Google Scholar
  2. Beghetto, R. A., & Karwowski, M. (2017). Toward untangling creative self-beliefs. In M. Karwowski & J. C. Kaufman (Eds.), The creative self (pp. 3–22). San Diego, CA: Academic.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Binnewies, C., & Sonnentag, S. (2013). The application of diary methods to examine worker’s daily recovery during off-job time. In A. Bakker & K. Daniels (Eds.), A day in the life of a happy worker (pp. 72–84). New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  4. Binnewies, C., & Wörnlein, S. C. (2011). What makes a creative day? A diary study on the interplay between affect, job stressors and job control. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 32, 589–607.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bolger, N., Davis, A., & Rafaeli, E. (2003). Diary methods: Capturing life as it is lived. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 579–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bolger, N., & Laurenceau, J.-P. (2013). Intensive longitudinal methods: An introduction to diary and experience sampling research. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  7. Collins, L. M. (2006). Analysis of longitudinal data: The integration of theoretical model, temporal design, and statistical model. Annual Review of Psychology, 57, 505–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Conner, T. S., DeYoung, C. G., & Silvia, P. J. (2016). Everyday creative activity as a path to flourishing. Journal of Positive Psychology, 13, 181–189. Scholar
  9. Conner, T. S., & Silvia, P. J. (2015). Creative days: A daily diary study of emotion, personality, and everyday creativity. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 9, 463–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Csikszentmihalyi, M., Larson, R., & Prescott, S. (1977). The ecology of adolescent activities and experiences. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 6, 281–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Demerouti, E., Bakker, A. B., Sonnentag, S., & Fullagar, C. (2012). Work-related flow and energy at work and at home: A study on the role of daily recovery. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 33, 276–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gevers, J. M. P., & Demerouti, E. (2013). How supervisors’ reminders relate to subordinates’ absorption and creativity. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 28(6), 677–698.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Glăveanu, V. P. (2010). Paradigms in the study of creativity: Introducing the perspective of cultural psychology. New Ideas in Psychology, 28(1), 79–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gross, S., Meier, L. L., & Semmer, N. K. (2013). Latent growth modeling applied to diary data. In A. Bakker & K. Daniels (Eds.), A day in the life of a happy worker (pp. 114–131). New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  15. Gruner, D. (2016). New digital media and flow: A study of experience. Creativity: Research-Theories-Applications, 3(2), 343–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gunthert, K. C., & Wenze, S. J. (2012). Daily diary methods. In M. R. Mehl & T. S. Conner (Eds.), Handbook of research methods for studying daily life (pp. 144–159). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  17. Iida, M., Shrout, P., Laurenceau, J. P., & Bolger, N. (2012). Using diary methods in psychological research. In H. Cooper (Ed.), APA handbook of research methods in psychology: Foundations, planning, measures and psychometrics (Vol. 1, pp. 277–305). Washington, DC.: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ivcevic, Z., & Nusbaum, E. (2017). From having an idea to doing something with it: Self-regulation for creativity. In M. Karwowski & J. C. Kaufman (Eds.), The creative self (pp. 536–576). San Diego, CA: Academic.Google Scholar
  19. Janssen, O. (2000). Job demands, perceptions of effort-reward fairness and innovative work behavior. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 73, 287–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Karwowski, M., & Brzeski, A. (2017). Selfies and the (creative) self: A diary study. Frontiers in Psychology, 8(172), 1–10.Google Scholar
  21. Karwowski, M., Lebuda, I., Szumski, G., & Firkowska-Mankiewicz, A. (2017). From Moment-to-Moment to Day-to-Day: Experience Sampling and Diary Investigations in Adults’ Everyday Creativity. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 11, 309324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Larson, R., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1983). The experience sampling method. New Directions for Methodology of Social and Behavioral Science, 15, 41–56.Google Scholar
  23. Mehl, M. R., & Conner, T. S. (Eds.). (2012). Handbook of research methods for studying daily life. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  24. Nezlek, J. B. (2012). Multilevel modeling analyses of diary-style data. In M. R. Mehl & T. S. Conner (Eds.), Handbook of research methods for studying daily life (pp. 357–383). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  25. Reis, H. T., & Gable, S. L. (Eds.). (2000). Event-sampling and other methods for studying everyday experience. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Rosing, K., Frese, M., & Bausch, A. (2011). Explaining the heterogeneity of the leadership innovation relationship: Ambidextrous leadership. Leadership Quarterly, 22(5), 956–974.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rubenstein, L. D., Callan, G. L., & Ridgley, L. M. (2018). Anchoring the creative process within a self-regulated learning framework: Inspiring assessment methods and future research. Educational Psychology Review, 30(3), 921–945.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Schwarz, N. (2012). Why researchers should think “real-time”: A cognitive rationale. In M. R. Mehl & T. S. Conner (Eds.), Handbook of research methods for studying daily life (pp. 22–42). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  29. Semmer, N. (1984). Streßbezogene Tätigkeitsanalyse. [Stress-oriented analysis task-analysis]. Weinheim, Germany: Beltz.Google Scholar
  30. Silvia, P. J., Beaty, R. E., Nusbaum, E. C., Eddington, K. M., Levin-Aspenson, H., & Kwapil, T. R. (2014). Everyday creativity in daily life: An experience-sampling study of “little c” creativity. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 8(2), 183–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Silvia, P. J., Cotter, K. N., & Christensen, A. P. (2017). The creative self in context: Experience sampling and the ecology of everyday creativity. In M. Karwowski & J. C. Kaufman (Eds.), The creative self (pp. 437–458). San Diego, CA: Academic.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Tierney, P., Farmer, S. M., & Graen, G. B. (1999). An examination of leadership and employee creativity: The relevance of traits and relationships. Personnel Psychology, 52, 591–620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Weinberger, E., Wach, D., Stephan, U., & Wegge, J. (2018). Having a creative day: Understanding entrepreneurs’ daily idea generation through a recovery lens. Journal of Business Venturing, 33, 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Welbourne, T. M., Johnson, D. E., & Erez, A. (1998). The role-based performance scale: Validity analysis of a theory-based measure. The Academy of Management Journal, 41(5), 540–555.Google Scholar
  35. Wilden, R. G., & Zacher, H. (2014). A daily diary study on ambidextrous leadership and self-reported employee innovation. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 87(4), 813–820.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Zacher, H., & Rosing, K. (2015). Ambidextrous leadership and team innovation. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 36(1), 54–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Zapf, D. (1993). Stress-oriented analysis of computerized office work. European Work and Organizational Psychologist, 3, 85–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational ScienceThe Maria Grzegorzewska UniversityWarszawaPoland

Personalised recommendations