Creatives Engage with Spontaneous Self-Affirmation as a part of Their Writing Practices



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This dissertation explores whether the writing practices of creatives provides evidence of engagement with psychological coping strategies that mediate an individual’s ability to overcome socially challenging circumstances, such as is associated with creativity. To that end, four corpora were developed that consist of the natural writing samples (N = 119, 974) authored by individuals from many vocational domains. One set of corpora reflects writing samples that feature prompts related to self-affirmation or descriptive writing, respectively, thereby mirroring the writing-intervention manipulations found in social psychology studies. The second set of corpora reflect the writing practices of broadly and regionally notable creative achievers. This dissertation utilized Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) software to examine the natural writings for language suggestive of engagement with the coping strategy of self-affirmation, which is known to buffer the adverse effects of social threat/stress and bolster creative performance. The obtained findings revealed that creative achievement positively predicted the use of words related to personal values regardless of the reason for writing. The similarity in rates of value-related words in writings by more notable creatives, under varied writing conditions, and by individuals explicitly prompted to self-affirm, suggests that more notable creatives may be spontaneously engaging with self-affirmation as a part of their natural writing practices. Specifically, engaging with self-affirmation in this way may help creatives overcome challenging circumstances associated with creativity by buffering adverse effects of social threats/stress and bolstering a variety of psychological factors that support enhanced creative performance.



Creativity, Creative Achievement, Natural Writing Practice, Spontaneous Self-Affirmation, Coping Strategy