USF St. Petersburg campus Honors Program Theses (Undergraduate)

First Advisor

Thesis Director: Christina Salnaitis, Ph.D.


University of South Florida at St. Petersburg



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The creative process is a fascinating subject when considering human cognition and the generative capacity of the mind, and emotional processes are equally as intriguing. Both creativity and emotional affect are heavily grounded in cognition, but the degree to which they coincide and interact with each other has not been heavily explored. The purpose of this study was to use interviews and qualitative research to analyze the cognitive conceptions of emotion, their representations in art, and the creative process when exploring emotion. Artists produced spontaneous works depicting three basic emotions: happy, sad, and angry; the artists were then interviewed, and the conversations were analyzed for common themes and differences amongst participants. It was learned that artists have the tendency to create works of art representing the emotion, rather than creating something associated with the subject emotion. Additionally, 'happy' was commonly depicted through smooth, curved lines, whereas 'angry' used hard, sharp lines, suggesting a general association of certain artistic themes with emotion. The creative process in this study could be described as forced spontaneity.

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