Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

NYU: Exploring Interrelations Between Emotions, Creativity, and Meaning-Making

With a newly awarded Grand Challenges and Innovations in Well-Being Science grant from the Lifull Foundation, Drs. Alden Lai, assistant professor of public health policy and management with New York University College of Global Public Health, and co-investigator Dr. Yuna Lee, professor at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, seek to explore how affect and creativity interact to generate the meaning of work among anesthesiologists and intensivists.

Scholars have been examining the psychological elements involved in fostering resilience in stressful work environments. They focus on the interactions of three constructs: emotions, creativity, and meaning-making. Work, social, and organizational psychologists have examined these characteristics in relative silos without identifying their interactive effects. For example, previous research shows that negative emotions such as anger, worry, and dissatisfaction drive creativity. On another hand, creativity is needed in meaning-making at work – restaurant cooks can creatively change their daily tasks to prepare artistic dishes, deriving meaning as “artists” of the culinary world for example. Collectively, these studies suggest an intertwining relationship in how people foster resilience at work that warrants further research. Emotions could act as drivers of the need to be creative and find meaning, with the latter two influencing each other.

This mixed-methods study explores how the three constructs might interrelate within a high-stress work environment in health care. They anticipate results will help to better understand and/or predict the mechanisms involved when fostering resilience at work, especially under stressful conditions expected to impinge on well-being.

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