I was looking out the window at Manchester's ever falling rain drops thinking can these grey skies help us to be more creative?
According to the social psychologist Joe Forgas the secret lies in the dull negative feelings that this type of weather brings. He has spent the past decade investigating the link between negative moods and creativity. Most people aren’t big fans of feeling low but according to Forgas it’s these very feelings that increase our attention and allow us to become more observant.
In order to explore this he set up one of his most important studies which took place in a Sydney stationery shop. As well as the usual retail items he placed a number of items on the checkout, plastic animals, plastic toy soldiers and also Matchbox cars. As shoppers left the store Forgas tested their memory asking them what items they could remember on the counter.
To test the links between the weather, mood and attention, Forgas would only conduct the test on really sunny days and very rainy days. On the rainy days he would play Verdi’s Requiem to accentuate the gloom. On the sunny days he would play a chirpy composition by Gilbert and Sullivan. The results were clear, the shoppers on rainy days remembered nearly four times as many items as those on the sunny days. The rain affected their mood in a negative way, but this low mood in return had made them more attentive.
So it could be Manchester’s rainy days that give us the attention and observation we need to keep looking, pushing, re-drawing and striving for a more creative answer. That attention and observation which allows Manchester’s creative scene to flourish and compete with the biggest cities in the world. So here is to Manchester and here’s to rainy days.