We know that creativity lifts mood, boosts productivity and has proven benefits for mental health. What we don’t know is how or why. BBC Arts Get Creative is helping to host a mass survey to discover more about this link. We thought this was a great opportunity to share a study we can all take part in, to map how the nation gets creative and put that knowledge into practice for our wellbeing.
Singing in the shower or painting a picture makes you feel good, right? Scientists want to better understand just why getting creative has such an effect on boosting your mood and explore how creative activities can benefit our mental health. Take the Great British Creativity Test to discover how you stack up against the nation, or read on to discover what scientists are hoping to learn.
What is the Great British Creativity Test?
The Great British Creativity Test is a Citizen Science experiment where members of the Great British public are asked to answer a short questionnaire about their hobbies and pastimes, and how these activities make them feel. It has been commissioned by BBC Arts and Tomorrow’s World as part of the Get Creative Festival, more than 1,000 events happening up and down the UK from 17-25 March to encourage people to try something new and creative.
What do scientists hope to learn?
There is already a wealth of data to support the theory that creative activities can improve our mood and mental wellbeing.
What is less well understood is why creative activities boost mental wellbeing. This is what the Great British Creativity Test wants to explore.
The connection between creativity and mental wellbeing is complex, and many different variables will affect the way people feel. This is why a large study, with tens of thousands of participants, can create ground-breaking science that would be very hard to do in other ways.
What could the data do?
Dr Fancourt explains that this research feeds into schemes expanding across the UK that provide arts and creative activities ‘on prescription’. Twenty percent of visits to GPs are not for medical but for social reasons such as loneliness and low mood.
a large study, with tens of thousands of participants, can create ground-breaking science
These are problems that require help that pills can’t provide, but local book groups or community choirs can: social support, a chance to relax, a purpose and structure to each week, and a creative skill to be proud of.
Referring people to creative activities has numerous other benefits too, including reducing demand on the healthcare system and empowering people to feel in control of their own health. But Dr Fancourt emphasised that to support this more research is needed.
About the test
The test is a collaboration between the BBC and UCL and is also part of the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World campaign – a year-long campaign of science, health and technology content. It was made for the BBC by digital agency Joi Polloi.
The anonymous data from the Great British Creativity Test is passed to scientists at UCL and will only be used for non-commercial, scientific research or education.