Friday, January 14, 2022

Creativity: Altered and Transitional States

Creativity: Altered and Transitional States. Stanley Krippner. In Encyclopedia of Creativity 3rd ed. Prinzter, Runco eds. Elsevier 2020.


Altered States of Consciousness An “altered” conscious state can be defined as a pattern of phenomenological properties recognizable by an individual (or group), or by an external observer of that individual (or group), as demonstrating a major difference in behavior and experience from an ordinary baseline pattern of wakefulness. An “altered state” involves changes in a number of “subsystems” of consciousness such as perceptions, cognitions, emotions, and sense of time and space. Both dreaming and non-dreaming sleep differ from baseline consciousness, thus qualifying as “altered states.” Others include variants in wakefulness resulting from meditation, prayer, hypnosis, “peak experiences,” “mediumistic” and “channeling” rituals, and more. Studying the phenomenology (or subjective experience) of an “altered state” can be accomplished through observation, self-reports, interviews, brain scans and other psychophysiological measures, or the administration of psychological tests and inventories

Consciousness The term “consciousness” derives from the Latin conscire, to know with, or to be cognizant of something.  Ordinary waking consciousness reflects the explicit knowledge of one’s situation and one’s sense of personal existence. In general, “consciousness” can be described as a phenomenological pattern that characterizes humans or other sentient organisms at any given time and place

Creative The term “creative” can be applied to any act, idea, or product that changes or transforms an existing domain of human endeavor. A phenomenon is creative if it is novel and, in some manner, useful or appropriate for the situation in which it occurs

Phenomenology This is an approach to disciplined inquiry that emphasizes the nature of conscious experiences in their own terms. Phenomenologists investigate the relationship between conscious behaviors and the objects of such acts, thereby differing it from introspection

Transitional States of Consciousness Typically, a “transitional conscious state” lasts for a brief time period, mediating between two longer lasting patterns of consciousness. Hypnagogic states are transitional, because they mark the shift from a baseline state (wakefulness) to a long-lasting altered state (sleep). Other transitional states include daydreaming, reverie, napping, and hypnagogic or hypnopompic states, the former occurring when falling asleep and the latter upon waking from sleep. Transitional states are sometimes called “transliminal,” because they cross a “limen” or threshold

Historical Overview

The terms by which people make sense of their world are social artifacts, products of historically situated interchanges among people. In the history of Western civilization, not all individuals have had equal opportunities for creative expression. For example, until recently the creativity of women was rarely valued or encouraged in Western cultures; women were given few occasions to develop the skills (e.g., critical thinking) or life circumstances (e.g., solitude) on which creative work often depends. One of creativity’s “Four Ps” is Place, the historical and cultural context of Person, Process, and Product.

Shamans are community-sanctioned practitioners who purport to access information in what Westerners would call “altered states.” Shamans then use this information in service of their community. For example, Pablo Amaringo, a Peruvian shaman, interacted with “spirits” after drinking ayahuasca, a mind-altering brew made from Amazonian plants. His paintings of the “spirit world” attracted the attention of tourists. Using funds from the sale of his paintings, Amaringo established an art school for young people from the Amazonian rainforest. Jeremy Narby, an anthropologist, took three scientists to the Amazon to imbibe ayahuasca under the guidance of shamans. All three reported creative insights that helped them solve problems relating to their work (Narby and Huxley, 2009).

The paintings in the Lascaux Caves of southern France date back at least 17,000 years; the prone figure depicted in the cave is often regarded as a shaman experiencing changed consciousness, perhaps dreaming. Cave art often depicts substances now referred to as “psychedelic” (from the Greek words psyche and deloun, i.e., “mind-manifesting”). Such substances as the peyote cactus apparently helped many shamans enter the “spirit world.” Psychedelics provided a technology that triggered theatrical performances, mythic narratives, chants, songs, dances, and other products currently labeled “creative.” Traditional Siberian shamans still “journey” to the “spirit world” with the aid of psychedelic mushrooms, ritualistic dancing, and/or rhythmic drumming.

Initiates of the Eleusinian Mysteries in ancient Greece probably used a potion containing a psychedelic fungus to fathom what the poet Pindar called “the end of life and its god-sent beginning.” India’s Vedic hymns sing the praises of soma, an intoxicant, perhaps a psychedelic mushroom, that was “all pervading, swift as thought.”

In pre-Conquest Mesoamerica, people used their talents creatively in the service of their religious beliefs. Aztec poets and musicians rhapsodized about the “dream flowers” that took them to another world. Wasson found similarities between the employment of psychedelics in pre-Conquest Mexico and their use in ancient Greece; mind-altering plants adorn both the vases of Attica and the architecture of Mitla.

Cross-Cultural Comparisons

Societies have an assortment of terms to describe activities resembling what Western psychologists refer to as creativity; for example, the first hexagram of the Chinese “Book of Changes” (or I Jing) is Ch’ien, the “Creative Principle.” Most Asian, African, and Native American traditions also have used creative imagination to enrich and enhance everyday life. Novel and original contributions were typically seen as gifts from deities or spirits who used humans as “channels.”

When the Catholic Church’s power was dominant, Western cultures tended to consider “channeling” wicked and demonic.  Following the Renaissance, science and medicine prevailed. However, the rituals of “mediums” and “channelers” were now cast in psychopathological terms, even though their phenomenology was quite different. In contrast, traditional Eastern worshippers, such as Buddhists, Hindus, and Taoists, had intricate vocabularies to describe the phenomenology of changed consciousness.  In dreams and in waking visions, the Maya people asked their deities to appear before them, reflecting a tradition of visionary ecstasy. Mayan artists depicted an overlap between the world of everyday reality and the “spirit world,” suggesting that their phenomenology was more “dreamlike” than that of their European conquerors. Freud described the conscious “ego” as the external boundary of a volatile reservoir of both conscious and unconscious “psychic energies.” This resembles the shamanic energetic model of the human body embedded in a community and environmental matrix. However, from the shaman’s perspective, the “unconscious energies” of the Freudians were not blind and irrational, but keenly intelligent forces originating in the earth itself.

Creativity and Psychedelics

Psychedelic substances and other drugs affect consciousness by modifying the process of synaptic transmission in the brain. Excitatory and inhibitory connections are carried out by transfer of biochemicals (by neurotransmitters) across the synaptic gap between neurons. Drugs can affect synaptic transmission in a variety of ways, such as blocking the production or reception of a neurotransmitter or mocking a neurotransmitter, thus effectively increasing its activity level. The phenomenological pattern that a drug evokes depends upon which neurotransmitters it affects. In the case of psychedelics, the outcome seems to be a disruption of logical analysis and the automatic reality-checking functions of the brain, probably connected to the ability of these drugs to block serotonin transmission. In psychotherapy, psychedelics can produce a depatterning influence that breaks up the individual’s habitual experiences of the world, tending to increase the individual’s suggestibility and susceptibility to reprogramming (Baruss, 2003).

Several creative individuals have produced anecdotal accounts claiming that their phenomenology has been affected by ingestion of psychedelics (Krippner, 2017). They include neurologist S. Weir Mitchell, British writer Aldous Huxley, U.S. naval technician John Busby, actors Cary Grant and Rita Moreno, and the Canadian architect Kyo Izumi. Both Kary Mullis and Francis Crick attributed their Nobel Prize-winning discoveries (i.e., a DNA detection method; the double helix structure of DNA), at least in part, to experiences with LSD.

The “Model Psychosis” Assumption

Some early researchers reported that LSD users gave highly imaginative, although bizarre, responses to Rorschach inkblots and other measures. In summarizing his observations of LSD users in 1976, the psychoanalyst Silvano Arieti found that the use of “primary process mechanisms” was enhanced, but that the “secondary processing” required to put the imagery to creative use was impaired.  These studies and related research, conducted with artists and non-artists, and with laboratory participants and “street users,” identified many dysfunctional results of informal psychedelic drug use. However, no conclusive data supported the notion that psychedelics could produce a “model psychosis.” In 1988, T. E. Oxman and colleagues reported a content analysis of 66 autobiographical accounts of schizophrenia, psychedelic drug experience, and mystical experience, as well as personal experiences in ordinary consciousness. They concluded that there is a “clear dissimilarity” among changed states of consciousness, especially between psychosis and psychedelic drug states, as a refutation of the “model psychosis” perspective. Creativity, of course, is only one of many behaviors affected by psychedelics. One of creativity’s “Four Ps” is Process, and psychedelics may accelerate the incubation phase.

Psychedelic Research With Volunteers

Another of creativity’s “Four Ps” is Person, and several studies have been conducted with volunteers to determine the relationship between psychedelics and creative behavior. For example, to study the effects of LSD on creativity test scores, a test battery (also administered to a control group) was given before LSD ingestion, and alternative forms of the same tests were administered 2 h later. The researchers observed that changed scores on the creativity tests favored the LSD group, even though they did poorly on tests requiring visual attention. In another study, one-third of the participants were administered a high dose of LSD, onethird a low dose, and one-third an amphetamine. Questionnaires were administered to each group prior to drug ingestion and again at two follow-ups. The low LSD and amphetamine groups obtained similar results, but the high LSD group bought more musical records, spent more time in museums, and attended more musical events. Another study dispensed psilocybin to volunteers who had completed tests for creativity and for brain damage; they were re-tested after drug ingestion. A significant inverse relationship between the scores on the two tests was reported.

A 2018 study found that both convergent and divergent thinking test scores improved following frequent “microdoses” of LSD.  In summation, psychedelic substances affect several subsystems of consciousness that enhance creativity (Pappas, 2018). However, these insights need to be implemented in the elaboration phase of creativity.

Psychedelic Research With Selected Participants

In the 1960s, LSD was administered to 50 well-known artists at the Max Planck Institute in Munich. The artists concurred that the experience was of value, and the ensuing work was displayed in a Frankfurt gallery. In a study on the effects of mescaline and LSD on four U.S. graphic artists, a panel of art critics judged the paintings to have greater aesthetic value than the artists’ usual work, noting that the lines were bolder and the use of color more vivid. A similar study giving LSD to American artists resulted in judgments by a professor of art history that the LSD paintings were more imaginative, especially in color, line, and texture, although the technique was poorer.

A study of professional workers in creativity-related fields showed that mescaline ingestion resulted in a statistically significant increase in creativity test scores, with enhanced fluency of ideas, visualization, and field independence. Interview and questionnaire data revealed that half the group had accomplished a great deal more during the mescaline session than would have characterized their ordinary workday. All participants reported positive reactions to mescaline, but many were unable to focus because they were diverted by the experience itself.

In one study, ayahuasca was ingested by 24 volunteers. Their pre-session and post-session scores on creativity tests revealed a decrease in convergent thinking and an increase in divergent thinking. The researchers concluded that ayahuasca “enhances creative divergent thinking,” but that “additional research . is warranted” (Kuypers et al., 2016, p. 3407).

Cross-Cultural Considerations

The potent red mescal bean, Sophora secundiflora, has been found with the remains of the extinct bison and the tools and weapons of early North American hunters. Anthropologists have noted that the chants and poems used in contemporary spiritual ceremonies make great demands on the practitioner; the Yakut shaman in Siberia, for example, has a poetic vocabulary of some 12,000 words used in Amanita muscaria mushroom rites, as compared to 4000 in ordinary daily endeavors. The Zuni rain priests of New Mexico have a special language with which they converse with “spirit birds” once they have ingested Datura meteloides. For native people, these substances are not taken trivially, for momentary pleasures or “cheap thrills” (De Rios, 2003). To maintain their standards, native groups require a precise amount of time for the preparation of psychedelic concoctions, and the mixture of ingredients must be exact. Even then, there may be an initial period of bodily discomfort, physical pain, or vomiting, followed by encounters with “malevolent spirits.”

Psychedelics often foster creative behavior among indigenous people by reinforcing cultural myths and traditions. The ayahuascaingesting Siona shamans of the Amazon have provided phenomenological reports that involve categorizing the induced visions into culturally meaningful symbols and experiences. On the other hand, psychedelics often stimulate creativity among specialists in industrialized societies by deconditioning them to their cultural traditions; their images are likely to tap into their personal rather than their social imaginario.

Creativity, Hypnagogia, and Hypnopompia

Colorful images often occur during hypnagogic (from the Greek Hypnos, or sleep, and agogeus, or leading into) reverie, the transliminal state occurring during the onset of sleep. There is a similar association between creativity and hypnopompic (from the Greek Hypnos, or sleep, and pompe, or leading out of) reverie, which occurs as one awakens from sleep. These transitional states, referred to as hypnagogia and hypnopompia, resemble dreams in that both contain visual, auditory, and/or kinesthetic imagery. However, material from these twilight states is not typically characterized by narration, as with dreams (Mavromatis, 1987).  Hypnagogic images seem to have been a critical factor in chemist Friedrich August Kekule’s conceptualization of the structural formula of the benzene molecule as well as a Ludwig van Beethoven composition obtained while napping in his carriage en route to Vienna. William Blake claimed that images of spiritual beings, which started coming to him as a child, served as the basis for many of his later drawings. Thomas Edison often stretched out on his workshop couch; during these “half-waking” episodes, he claimed that he was “flooded” by creative images. Mary Shelley disclosed that her classic tale, Frankenstein, came to her as a series of hypnagogic images the evening after her group of friends agreed to compete for the best original Gothic horror tale (Shelley won).

Creativity and Daydreaming

Autobiographies and biographies reveal that several prominent individuals apparently utilized various types of daydreaming for creative purposes. Isaac Newton claimed to have solved many vexing problems in physics when his attention was waylaid by private musings.

The composer Claude Debussy used to gaze at the river Seine and its playful reflections of the sun to establish an atmosphere for his creativity. The writer Friedrich Schiller kept rotten apples in his desk drawer, stating the aroma helped evoke creative reverie. The philosopher John Dewey observed that creative conceptions frequently occur when people “are relaxed to the point of reverie.” Jerome Singer (1966) found evidence in both children and adults of frequent daydreaming among those whose written or dictated stories were rated by judges as the most original and creative. Singer also reported that daydreaming was marked by passive, effortless indulgence of a wish in fantasy an uncritical condition typical of some types of creativity.

Cross-Cultural Comparisons

The way a culture conceptualizes creativity restricts it to some social practices and processes and denies it to others. During the heyday of Maoist thought in China, creativity was a matter of teamwork, and no individual artisan was allowed to sign a painting, claim authorship for an orchestral piece, or register credit for an invention. For spiritual reasons, the composers of Indian ragas did not affix their names to their works, and, in the Benin culture, the African deity Olokun is thought to influence artists through dreams and reverie. There are several societies in which specialists are encouraged to put aside their rational problem-solving modes of thought so that divinities may work through them.

Creativity, Meditation, Hypnosis, and Mediumship

There are psychophysiological markers for hypnagogia, hypnopompia, and napping. In the case of meditation, several studies have identified markers such as reduced respiration rate and volume of air breathed, reduced oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide elimination, and reduced blood lactate. In these studies, heart rate and the skin’s electrical conductance decreased, but the frequency of alpha (and sometimes of theta) brain waves increased. All of these suggest reduced energy metabolism, autonomic nervous system arousal, cortical energy metabolism, and autonomic nervous system and cortical arousal. Reduced arousal during meditation is due to its rest and relaxation aspects rather than to the specific meditation practice employed. However, it is probably more accurate to speak of “meditative states of consciousness” than to hypothesize a single “meditative state,” because different practices may emphasize rapid breathing and active movement rather than counting breaths, repeating phrases, focusing on a mandala, or witnessing to one’s thoughts (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996).

The term “hypnosis” refers to a variety of structured, goal-oriented procedures in which the suggestibility and/or motivation of an individual or a group is enhanced by another person (or persons), or by oneself. These procedures attempt to blur, focus, and/or amplify mentation (e.g., imagination and intention), leading to the accomplishment of specified behaviors or experiences that reflect expectations and role enactments on the part of the “hypnotized” individuals who attend (often with little awareness) to the interpersonal or situational cues that shape their responses. Other research data emphasize the part that attention plays in hypnosis, enhancing the salience of the suggested task or experience. Both these bodies of hypnosis literature stress the interaction of several variables, suggesting that there are great individual differences in hypnotic responsiveness. Some participants are fantasyprone, others dissociate easily, and still others are highly motivated to be “hypnotized.” Both hypnotic susceptibility and creativity are fairly stable personality traits, as measured by several standardized tests. The research on hypnosis and creative phenomena has shown that fantasy and absorptive experiences are concomitants of various changes in consciousness, including those due to hypnosis. They occur spontaneously in the context of a creative act; and they are often experienced by creative participants who, as a group, seem more adept than their less creative peers at shifting cognitively from a higher to a lower level of psychic functioning – from a more active to a more passive condition. In addition, the ability to tolerate unusual experiences and become absorbed in a variety of experiences correlates highly with hypnotic susceptibility. Time distortion in hypnosis has been used to facilitate the expressive arts and creative writing (Cooper and Erickson, 1954). Benefits from hypnotically enhanced rehearsals have been reported by actors and performing artists (Shames, 1992).

Because of the link between hypnosis and creativity, practitioners need to know with what degree of facility a hypnotized subject can produce pseudo-memories. Even if the increase in memories later is found to be accurate, it is often accompanied by an increase in inaccurate memories. These pseudo-memories attest to the participants’ creativity but are often used inappropriately in psychotherapy.

The term “meditation” (from the Latin meditatio or thinking over) refers to a variety of practices that are used to self-regulate one’s attention. All meditative practices attempt to bring the meditator into the “here and now,” breaking through habitual phenomenological patterns. The case for increased creativity during meditation rests on the practice’s ability to assist the meditator to break through socially ingrained patterns of perceiving and conceptualizing the world (Murphy and Donovan, 1988). If the linear, cause-and-effect way of thinking can be transcended, creativity may result. Creativity may be further enhanced by adopting a more circular way of thinking in which the focus is on relationships, possibilities, and recursive patterns rather than on linear causality and single-outcome events (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996). The research on meditation and creativity has produced mixed results. One group of researchers found no relationship between creativity test scores and experience in meditation. Another group reported significant increases in creativity scoring among practitioners of transcendental meditation (TM) and among Zen meditators.  One of the latter studies focused on students of Zen koans, finding that they were able to eliminate prior approaches interfering with problem solving and enhance the unification of contradictory events.

Patricia Carrington has reported several cases of students whose grades have improved, whose emotions have stabilized, and whose artistic productions have flourished following their initiation of a meditation practice. At the same time, in a comparison of a group of teachers of TM with a group of non-meditators, the former did no better than the latter on most measures, worse on a few measures, and better on one measure – an open-ended task requiring them to make up a story. It seems that meditation may enhance the free flow of associations and evoke new ideas for a meditator, but an abundance of meditation (probably the case with the group of teachers) may interfere with a person’s logical problem-solving capacity. A meta-analysis of all existing studies of TM and “self-actualization” concluded that the magnitude of the effects was not due to expectation, motivation, or relaxation, but to TM practice itself (Carrington, 1978).

Chico Xavier was a Brazilian medium who claimed to receive information from deceased persons (“spirits”), most of whom he had never met. By the time that he died in 2001, Xavier had written thousands of letters and nearly 500 books, all purportedly dictated by “spirits.” A linguistic analysis of several of these books found no underlying similarities among the purported authors or with the writings of which Xavier claimed ownership (Playfair, 2010). Occasionally, someone who is not a professional medium will produce poems, essays, and books through automatic writing. In 1913, a Missouri housewife, Pearl Curran, was using a Ouija Board when a message arrived from “Patience Worth” who allegedly lived in the 18th century. Over two decades, Curran produced over 400,000 words “dictated” by Patience Worth. Some were historical novels that received acclaim from both literary critics and historical scholars. Curran wrote a detailed phenomenology of her “automatic writing,” describing how images came to her while she was fully aware and never in a “trance” state.

Cross-Cultural Comparisons

Eastern and Western meditative practices have a long history; they have been viewed as spiritual exercises – means for attaining the special kind of awareness that can be arrived at in concert with other life practices. In contemporary industrialized societies, however, meditation tends to be oriented toward practical goals, with no ties to a specific belief system. The advantage is that one is free to use meditation outside a spiritual context, combining it with other methods of self-development and healthoriented or psychotherapeutic treatment. The disadvantage is that one may not attain the peace of mind of the unitive “bliss” claimed by members of traditional meditation schools.

The history of hypnosis is more recent. In the middle of the 19th century, James Braid introduced the term “neuro-hypnotism” or “nervous sleep” (from the Greek hypnosis, or sleep). However, the roots of hypnosis reach back to tribal rites and the practices of shamans. Hypnotic-like procedures were used in the court of the Pharaoh Khufu in 3766 BCE.; priests in the healing temples of Asclepius induced their clients into “temple sleep,” and the ancient Druids chanted over their clients until the desired effect was obtained. Herbs were used by native shamans to enhance verbal suggestion in pre-Columbian Central and South America. It is, nonetheless, incorrect to label these procedures “hypnosis” simply because they drew upon similar procedures such as suggestion, repetitive stimuli, and client expectations. People, groups, and cultures are “creative” during those periods of time when they exhibit activities that are innovative for that specific group in ways it considers valuable. These novel concepts, objects, and behaviors (e.g., a scientific discovery, a mathematical theorem, a philosophical insight, an artistic masterpiece) can be considered creative, although one social group might arrive at a consensus different from that of another group.

The practice of mediumship varies from culture to culture. The enslaved Africans brought their religions with them to the New World. Since such practices were vigorously opposed by Christian clerics, they went underground. This was a successful strategy in the French, Spanish, and Portuguese colonies; currently, mediumship is being practiced in New Orleans, the Caribbean, and Brazil, often in a temple that represents a syncretic religion (such as CandomblĂ© or Santeria). Some church members are renowned for “incorporating” famous artists, selling the artwork both to local people and to tourists.

Neurophysiological Mechanisms

Art involves the controlled structuring of a medium or material to communicate as vividly as possible the artist’s personal vision of experience. If the Product (one of the “Four Ps”) resonates with a larger public, it has succeeded in filling some gaps in social knowledge or in resolving cultural contradictions. Artists also attempt to supply missing information or material in a culture’s legacy. The same can be said for those creative individuals who work with institutions and groups of other people. None of this labor is done in a vacuum; there are neurophysiological predispositions interacting with social and psychological variables in the development of a Product, Process, Person, or Place that is eventually deemed creative.

There are several perceptual mechanisms ordinarily driven by sensory input during one’s baseline state of consciousness that are decoupled, totally or partially, from sensory input during many alterations in consciousness. A total decoupling takes place during dreaming, while partial decouplings take place in hypnagogic or hypnopompic states, daydreaming, meditation, and some druginduced or hypnosis-induced conditions. Transitions from such states represent a fertile ground for the development of creative ideas, because the perceptual mechanisms automatically linked to organizing the sensory inputs still occur, occasionally constructing novel and useful images from fragments of internal neural noise and loosely guided consultations with memory. Language allows the abstract images and relationships to be translated into a communicable form (Fink et al., 2009).  There is a direct relationship between perceptual processes and creative thought. The decoupling of normal sensory input during changed consciousness can be viewed as distinct from restricting sensory input in an individual’s ordinary waking state.

Psychosocial Mechanisms

The forms in which creative experiences are expressed cannot be separated from individuals and their cultures. Cross-cultural research has demonstrated that patterns of expectation within a given culture have an a priori influence on creative experiences.  Thus, in those cultures where women are devalued, there is little opportunity for their creativity to be expressed and appreciated.  The effects of psychedelics upon creativity depend on more than their neurophysiological effects, which are produced by an interaction between pharmacological drug factors (type or dose), long-term psychosocial factors (culture, personality, attitudes, knowledge, beliefs, prior experience), immediate psychosocial factors (mood, expectations, group ambience), and situational factors (setting, instructions, implicit and explicit demands). For example, anthropologists who have observed the effects of ayahuasca among indigenous people in the Amazon comment that the phenomenology differs, sometimes strikingly, according to the environmental and ceremonial background against which the drug is taken, the ingredients used in its preparation, the amount of it imbibed, and the expectancies on the part of the participant.

Learning From the Past

The formal study of creativity dates back only to J. P. Guilford’s 1950 presidential address to the American Psychological Association, in which he urged his colleagues to pursue this overlooked area. After the connection between changed states of consciousness and divergent thinking was made, and investigations of the links among drugs, hypnosis, and creativity ensued, studies of additional altered and transitional states followed.

A seminal research project was undertaken by R.K. Siegel (1977). He conducted a systematic study of visual images produced by a variety of drugs, focusing on such varied dimensions of these images as color, movement, action, and form. Siegel’s participants were trained to use an image classification system prior to the drug sessions. There were baseline and placebo sessions for comparative purposes. Regarding reported images, the amphetamine (a stimulant) and phenobarbital (a sedative) sessions did not differ from placebo sessions. However, the sessions with mescaline, LSD, psilocybin, and a marijuana derivative produced similar images.  In the psychedelic drug sessions, for example, complex images did not appear until well after there was a shift to lattice tunnel forms; memory images emerged in the later stages of the appearance of complex imagery. Noting that hypnagogic and hypnopompic images were accompanied by theta and low-frequency alpha brain waves, other researchers used biofeedback to teach participants how to obtain this phenomenology. There was an expected increase in the participants’ awareness of internal imagery and dream recall. What was unexpected was that most of them reported an increase in “integrative experiences” and “feelings of well-being.” These positive changes were amenable to intuition, insight, and creativity.

Several questions regarding the research on hypnosis and creativity remain unanswered. Robust findings are lacking due to methodological differences in the studies, the varied hypnotic responsiveness of the participants, and the disparate ways that creativity has been measured. Even when similar tests are used, they are administered differently, and the tests themselves admittedly assess a single instance or aspect of creativity. It may be that restrictions in awareness increase the priming of associative networks (outside of one’s awareness) by reducing cognitive interference. As a result, new associations are made, giving rise to creative insights.  Imagination or fantasy provides a continuous backdrop to mentation outside of awareness, and hypnosis may increase its accessibility.  Heart rate probably reflects shifts of attention from external to internal events, making it a potentially revealing way to assess the oscillation of attention from an external focus of concern toward the internal events it triggers, a process that is one aspect of creativity. A significant relationship has been reported between heartbeat rate variability and participants’ creativity scores, as more creative persons tended to show higher cardiac variability.

The psychophysiological studies of Zen meditators and yogic meditators revealed basic differences: members of the former group demonstrated “openness” to external stimuli, but were not distracted by them, whereas members of the latter group demonstrated “detachment” from external stimuli. In the light of this diversity, it is important that the type of meditation studied be identified in the assessment of phenomenological accounts, as well as the length of time the participants had been meditating. Further, it is common for meditation to blend into sleep during an experiment; hence, the images reported may be the result of hypnagogia or hypnopompia and not meditation itself. The application of chaos theory to the study of creativity has produced several insights, among them a description of how chaotic activity patterns in the brain can reconcile convergent and divergent problem-solving processes, and how “chaotic attractors” can utilize the brain’s neural networks to combine images and thoughts that would escape detection during wakefulness.

Planning for the Future

It is customary to study “the four Ps of creativity”: product, process, person, and place (sometimes called press). Simonton added a fifth P, persuasion. And this entry has added another “P,” namely, phenomenology. One’s experiences, whether ordinary, altered, or transitional, often play a key and pivotal role in evoking creativity as well as sustaining creative behavior.  Future research might identify the extent to which individual differences determine the scope of creativity. Such data could provide a better grasp of the degree to which information processing in altered or transitional states constitutes a major source of creative productivity. Mental constructions occurring during such states can be useful only insofar as they are remembered in order to be evaluated for application and utility. It may be that the degree to which decoupled automatic perceptual processes contribute to creative output has far more to do with facility in higher-level cognitive processes (such as memory storage and retrieval, search, and comparison) than in individual differences in the perceptual organization processes themselves.  One common view of why individuals manifesting some of the streams of schizophrenic-like thought might be viewed as creative is that deficiencies in their customary involuntary perceptual organization processes lead to an increased likelihood of an atypical representation of a perceptual event. In other words, it may be the anomalous organization of sensory input, coupled with sufficiently appropriate higher order processes to evaluate the potential value of a mental construction, that lead to creative output.  Creativity attributable to looseness in perceptual organization in the presence of stimuli is very different from creativity attributed to perceptual organization processes decoupled from normal sensory inputs. An increased frequency of transitions from transitional states of consciousness, as might reasonably be expected to occur in association with certain psychotic disorders, may be combined with unimpaired, or even superior, mechanisms of perceptual organization. This would represent a potential alternative route for contributing to creative thought by those individuals who are disposed toward cognitive disorders. Moreover, the relative instability or looseness in organizational processes, in tandem with the ability to exploit involuntary organizational processes decoupled from sensory input, may display individual difference variables. In this regard, what Richards (2018) has dubbed “everyday creativity” is an overlooked phenomenon in a field that all too often emphasizes the exotic, the dramatic, and the spectacular. It is quite likely that creative work draws more upon the ordinary waking state with its intact subsystems of consciousness than upon altered and transitional states.

Drugs can be ingested, meditation can be practiced, hypnosis can be utilized, and the contents of reverie can be recorded, but everyday behaviors and experiences can also provide inspiration for what later may become a novel approach to a long-delayed home refurbishing, an improved golf stroke, a new recipe for a family dinner, a breakthrough in a troubled relationship, an ingenious plan to divert restaurant leftovers to homeless people, a challenging educational technology, or any one of many other achievements.

The need for creative approaches at all social levels, as well as from all phenomenological states, has never been greater. Their development and application need to reflect the concepts of “origin” and “making,” which have so appropriately grounded the Latin word creare.


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The Big Five can indeed serve as an organizing framework for a sizable majority of stand-alone psychological trait scales and that many of these scales could reasonably be labeled as facets of the Big Five

Bainbridge, T. F., Ludeke, S. G., & Smillie, L. D. (2022). Evaluating the Big Five as an organizing framework for commonly used psychological trait scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Jan 2022.

Abstract: The Big Five is often represented as an effective taxonomy of psychological traits, yet little research has empirically examined whether stand-alone assessments of psychological traits can be located within the Big Five framework. Meanwhile, construct proliferation has created difficulty navigating the resulting landscape. In the present research, we developed criteria for assessing whether the Big Five provides a comprehensive organizing framework for psychological trait scales and evaluated this question across three samples (Total N = 1,039). Study 1 revealed that 83% of an author-identified collection of scales (e.g., Self-Esteem, Grit, etc.) were as related to the Big Five as at least four of 30 Big Five facets, and Study 2 found that 71% of scales selected based on citation counts passed the same criterion. Several scales had strikingly large links at the Big Five facet level, registering correlations with individual Big Five facets exceeding .9. We conclude that the Big Five can indeed serve as an organizing framework for a sizable majority of stand-alone psychological trait scales and that many of these scales could reasonably be labeled as facets of the Big Five. We suggest an integrative pluralism approach, where reliable, valid scales are located within the Big Five and pertinent Big Five research is considered in all research using trait scales readily located within the Big Five. By adopting such an approach, construct proliferation may be abated and it would become easier to integrate findings from disparate fields.

Menstrual Cycle Changes in Daily Sexual Motivation and Behavior Among Sexually Diverse Cisgender Women

Menstrual Cycle Changes in Daily Sexual Motivation and Behavior Among Sexually Diverse Cisgender Women. Lisa M. Diamond, Janna A. Dickenson & Karen L. Blair. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Jan 14 2022.

Abstract: We used a one-month daily diary assessment to measure menstrual cycle-related changes in same-gender and other-gender sexual motivation and behavior in 148 cisgender women (32% lesbian-identified, 35% bisexually identified, and 33% heterosexual-identified). Women with exclusive same-gender orientations reported increased motivation for same-gender sexual contact during the higher-fertility phase of the cycle, but women with exclusive other-gender orientations did not show a parallel increase in other-gender sexual motivation during the higher-fertility phase. Bisexually attracted women showed no phase-related changes in same-gender or other-gender sexual motivation, regardless of whether they generally preferred one gender versus the other. Rates of partnered sexual contact did not increase during the higher-fertility phase. During the 14 midcycle days during which we assayed salivary estrogen and testosterone, we found no significant associations between daily hormones and sexual motivation. However, daily estrogen levels were positively related to sexual behavior among women currently partnered with women, and negatively related to sexual behavior among women currently partnered with men. Our results suggest that traditional evolutionary models of menstrual cycle-related changes in sexual motivation do not adequately reflect the full range of cycle-related changes observed among sexually diverse women. 

Clubs and Networks in Economics Reviewing: Authors from the same PhD program or who previously worked with the reviewer are significantly more likely to receive a positive evaluation

Clubs and Networks in Economics Reviewing. Scott E. Carrell, David N. Figlio & Lester R. Lusher. NBER Working Paper 29631. Jan 2022. DOI 10.3386/w29631

Abstract: The network of economists who publish in leading journals is generally perceived as small, exclusive, and tightly knit. We study how author-editor and author-reviewer network connectivity and “match” influences editor decisions and reviewer recommendations of economic research at the Journal of Human Resources (JHR). Our empirical strategy employs several dimensions of fixed effects to overcome concerns of endogenous assignment of papers to editors and reviewers in order to identify causal impacts. Results show that clubs and networks play a large role in influencing both editor and reviewer decisions. Authors who attended the same PhD program, were ever colleagues with, are affiliates of the same NBER program(s), or are more closely linked via coauthorship networks as the handling editor are significantly more likely to avoid a desk rejection. Likewise, authors from the same PhD program or who previously worked with the reviewer are significantly more likely to receive a positive evaluation. We also find that sharing “signals” of ability, such as publishing in “top five”, attending a high ranked PhD program, or being employed by a similarly ranked economics department significantly influences editor decisions and/or reviewer recommendations.

Social media use was positively correlated with higher levels of chronic inflammation, more somatic symptoms, & more visits to the doctor or health centers for an illness; no correlation with seeking medical care for infection-related illnesses

Social Media Use and Its Link to Physical Health Indicators. David S. Lee, Tao Jiang, Jennifer Crocker, and Baldwin M. Way. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, Jan 12 2022.

Abstract: Social media use has become an integral part of many young adults' daily lives. Although much research has examined how social media use relates to psychological well-being, little is known about how it relates to physical health. To address this knowledge gap, the present research investigated how the amount of social media people use relates to various indices of physical health. Young adults provided a blood sample that was analyzed for C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of chronic inflammation. They also completed self-report measures of social media use, somatic symptoms, illness-related physician or health center visits, and whether they sought medical care for infection-related illnesses in the last 3 months.

Social media use was positively correlated with higher levels of CRP, more somatic symptoms, and more visits to the doctor or health centers for an illness. Although directionally consistent, the correlation with likelihood of seeking medical care for infection-related illnesses was nonsignificant (p = 0.061). All of these results held after controlling for factors such as sociodemographic information and depressive symptoms. Given the prevalence of social media use in daily life, these findings underscore the need for more research examining how social media use relates to physical health.


The current research examined whether social media use is associated with various physical health indicators among college students. Social media use was correlated with higher levels of CRP—a biomarker of chronic inflammation that is associated with chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases and cancers. Social media use was also related to experiencing more frequent somatic symptoms, and to behavioral health indices such as more visits to the doctor or health centers for an illness. The pattern of results remained the same even after adjusting for various factors, such as gender and depressive symptoms.

Our findings make several novel contributions. To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate the association of social media use across several platforms with CRP, a chronic inflammatory and health marker, in a college sample. Importantly, the use of a biological marker as a key health indicator is a strength of this study given that prior studies on social media use have primarily relied on self-report well-being measures, which can be vulnerable to demand characteristics. Furthermore, by measuring college students' social media use across several platforms (vs. one particular platform), our study captured social media usage in a more ecologically valid fashion43: By showing how this overall social media use variable was related to multiple health indicators, this study integrates and extends the nascent research on social media and physical health.

Broadly, our findings highlight the potential role of social media use in the context of social relationships and physical health research.50,51 Although people can engage in “nonsocial” activities on social media (e.g., reading the news), much of what they do on social media involves efforts to initiate, maintain, and develop relationships with others. For example, similar to the traditional conceptualization of social integration,52,53 people use social media platforms to have intimate conversations and exchange social support,54 to participate in groups and organizations (e.g., Facebook groups), and to cultivate diverse types of relationships.

Thus, an interesting question is why social media use was not associated with better physical health in this study, especially given the salubrious health effects typically seen with traditional measures of social integration and interaction (e.g., Social Network Index).53 Given the changing nature of social interactions and communication norms, it would be a timely and important endeavor to understand how social media use may contribute to social integration, which would have implications for research on social relationships and health.

In addition to the possibility that high social media usage leads to stress or displacement of health-promoting activities, problematic social media use (e.g., social networking site (SNS) addiction, social comparison) may trigger psychological processes or change in lifestyles that can undermine health.55–57 For instance, SNS addiction (e.g., preoccupation with social media, excessive use) is associated with lower well-being and depression,14,58 which can predict worse physical health.59 Although it is unclear how much our participants engaged in problematic social media use in this study, future studies may directly assess social media addiction and examine its relation to physical health (e.g., Bergen Social Media Addiction Scale).55

Caveats and limitations

This study has some limitations. First, the cross-sectional design of this study limits our ability to make causal or temporal inferences about the relation between social media use and physical health. For example, we cannot rule out the possibility that people with undermined health may use social media more (e.g., to seek health information or distraction from their dysphoria). Thus, future research should consider using longitudinal or experimental designs to establish causal and temporal effects.

Second, the effect sizes found in this study are small (0.17 < Î˛s < 0.20), although comparable to those typically found in studies on social media use and psychological well-being (−0.05 < rs < −0.15). Thus, it would be important to consider whether these effect sizes have clinical or practical significance.

Finally, this study documented an aggregate association between overall amount of social media use and physical health. Although focusing on the amount of social media use—the most commonly studied variable—allowed us to connect to extant literature, this broad metric does not provide any insight into how people use social media. Given that people use social media for a variety of reasons, and that the ways in which they use social media can also influence their well-being,60,61 future research should examine how the types of social media use may relate to health.

Unearned Endowment and Charity Recipient Lead to Higher Donations: A Meta-Analysis of the Dictator Game Lab Experiments

Unearned Endowment and Charity Recipient Lead to Higher Donations: A Meta-Analysis of the Dictator Game Lab Experiments. Hamza Umer, Takashi Kurosaki, Ichiro Iwasaki. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, Jan 14 2022.


•The study reports rigorous meta-analysis of the dictator game lab experiments.

•“Earned versus unearned’ effect on donations is examined.

•‘Charity versus student recipient’ on donations is examined.

•Donations are higher with unearned as compared to earned money.

•Generosity towards charity is higher in comparison to the student recipient.

Abstract: As fundamental conditions and subject attributes in lab and field are very different, insights from existing meta-analyses performed on combined data from lab and field might imprecisely summarize the behavior in lab. Therefore, we focus on lab experiments to examine the influence of ‘earned versus unearned’ and ‘student versus charity recipient’ experimental protocols on donations using meta-analysis based on 80 dictator game studies spread over the time frame of 23 years (1997 – 2020). We also take advantage of more recent meta-analysis techniques to improve the robustness and offer methodological advancements for the examination of human behavior. We find that dictators on average share approximately 22% of their endowment. We also find robust evidence that earned endowment reduces benevolence when the recipient is a charity, while the use of charity instead of student as the recipient enhances benevolence with unearned endowment. These findings extend our understanding regarding the conditional effects of nature of endowment and recipient type on the behavior in lab.

Keywords: Meta-analysisdictator gameearnedunearnedcharitystudent