Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience article research showing that having a positive attitude improves problem solving through the use of insight.
“The distinction between insight and analytic solving has been anecdotally recognized for millennia and has been the subject of scientific inquiry for nearly a century (e.g., Duncker, 1945; Maier, 1930; Kohler, 1917). A plethora of behavioral evidence details how these two solving processes differ. Analytic processing involves deliberate application of strategies and operations to gradually approach solution. Insight, which is considered a type of creative cognition, is the process through which people suddenly and unexpectedly achieve solution through processes that are not consciously reportable. Insight solutions tend to involve conceptual reorganization, often occurring after solvers overcome an impasse in their solving effort, and are suddenly able to recognize distant or atypical relations between problem elements that had previously eluded them (Gilhooly & Murphy, 2005; Smith & Kounios, 1996; Schooler & Melcher, 1995; Weisberg, 1994; Schooler, Ohlsson, & Brooks, 1993; Metcalfe & Weibe, 1987; Metcalfe, 1986). When solution is achieved, these factors combine to create a unique phenomenological experience, termed the Aha! or Eureka! moment.”
The study is pretty dry – and goes through how the experiment was setup in detail. However I think the outcome clearly is expected. I don’t know about you, but when I am in a positive mood and not anxious I am able to do much better at making cognitive leaps. The more stressed out I get, the more I fall back into “brute strength” mode and use analytical capabilities to solve problems.