The liberating consequences of creative work: How a creative outlet lifts the physical burden of secrecy

Jack A. Goncalo, Lynne C. Vincent, Verena Krause

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


A newly emerging stream of research suggests creativity can be fruitfully explored, not as an outcome variable, but as a contributor to the general cognitive and behavioral responding of the individual. In this paper, we extend this nascent area of research on the consequences of creativity by showing that working on a creative task can contribute to feelings of liberation-feelings that can help people to overcome psychological burdens. We illustrate the liberating effects of creativity by integrating the embodied cognition literature with recent research showing that keeping a secret is experienced as a psychological and physical burden. While secrecy is metaphorically related to physical burden, creativity is metaphorically associated with freedom to "think outside the box" and explore beyond normal constraints. Thus, we predict permission to be creative may actually feel liberating and feelings of liberation may, in turn, lift the physical burden of keeping a big secret. The results of three studies supported our prediction and suggest that the opportunity to be creative may be a way for people to unburden without directly revealing secrets that could cause shame and embarrassment. We discuss the implications of our results for future research on the psychological consequences of performing creative work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-39
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Creativity
  • Embodiment
  • Metaphor
  • Secrecy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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