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Here’s what the evidence shows about the links between creativity and depression

03 January 2018

There’s a stereotype that mental distress is an almost inevitable part of being highly creative.

But is there any substance to this idea, or have we been misled – by biographers drawn to artists with colourful and chaotic lives, and the conceits of cultural movements like the romantics?

Scientific attempts to resolve this question, which have mainly focused on disorders of mood, have so far struggled to reach a definitive answer. However, in a new review in Perspectives on Psychological Science, Christa Taylor of Albany State University has applied surgical precision to open up the existing body of research and lay out what we currently know.

Taylor identified 36 studies on the creativity-mood disorder relationship from a set of almost 3000 that were potentially relevant. She combined data from these different studies into into separate “meta-analyses”, depending on the specific question she was trying to address. We can be confident in the findings from these meta-analyses because they involved data from thousands or even millions of participants.

Read more on our Research Digest blog.

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