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."
Citation: Creswell JD, Dutcher JM, Klein WMP, Harris PR, Levine JM (2013) Self-Affirmation Improves Problem-Solving under Stress. PLoS ONE 8(5): e62593. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062593
Financial Disclosure: This research was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant #924387 and the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse Opportunity Fund. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interest Statement: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
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