Emotions in Everyday Life

The Center seeks to answer basic scientific questions about the roles emotions play in ordinary contexts, such as school and work. This research area also explores the intersection of creativity and emotional intelligence with regard to coping, persistence, academic and workplace success, and general mental health.

Using both basic and applied science techniques, researchers at the Center are documenting the everyday effects of emotions. They study these effects on thinking and behaving (e.g., teachers’ grading practices), work (e.g., teachers’ burnout and job satisfaction), and relationships (e.g., teachers’ relationships with students). Studies also examine the role of emotions in creativity as well as in health and well-being (e.g., students’ anxiety and depression).

Our basic science studies investigate the role of emotions in everyday experiences. For example, how does emotion regulation help people persist in pursuing creative goals? How does emotional intelligence help people translate negative emotions into productive, creative self-expression? What role does emotional intelligence play in adolescents’ successful navigation of major transitions in and out of high school?

Our applied research studies the role emotions play in a wide range of contexts, including museum- and school-based arts programs that build emotional intelligence skills or enhance creativity. In addition, the Center leverages insights into emotion to create effective health messages encouraging the public – especially underserved populations – to engage in behaviors that help them be more healthy.

Emotions and the Creative Process

Our work explores the role of emotional intelligence in the creative process. For example, how can a person regulate anxiety about a new project and choose to be creative? Alternatively, how can a person access unpleasant emotions for defining a problem or to enrich artistic expression? We also explore the role of emotions above and beyond other predictors of creativity, such as the personality trait of openness to experience, to better understand how creative potential becomes creative behavior.

Applications of Creativity

Everyday creativity is applicable to almost every part of life. Our goal is to study how creativity contributes to life both inside and outside of school. The Creativity, Emotions, and the Arts project develops museum-based workshops to teach visitors emotional intelligence and creative problem-solving. In addition, we study the effects of teaching social and emotional learning through the arts in schools.

Emotions and Healthy Behaviors

Previously known as the Health, Emotion, and Behavior Laboratory, the Center was an early leader in studying health messaging research as one of the many ways emotions affect health. The choice to adopt healthy behaviors often begins with a persuasive public service announcement, brochure, print advertisement, educational program, or health professional. How can officials craft the most effective message to promote behaviors shown to prevent diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS? Findings from research done here at the Center help provide answers.