ANN ARBOR—Can theater improvisation actually make adults feel better and more creative? “Yes, and …”

A new study by researchers at the University of Michigan and Stony Brook University found that 20 minutes of improv experience causes people to feel comfortable and more tolerant of uncertainty.

“Individuals also reported a happier mood compared to a control group, who didn’t get the same satisfaction when performing scripted tasks,” said study co-author Colleen Seifert, U-M professor of psychology.

What makes improv popular is not knowing what will happen next during a collaborative performance as opposed to scripted theater. The most widely cited principle of this training is “Yes, and …” This technique requires improvisers to accept the information their partner offers (the “yes”) and adds more content.

Seifert and colleagues Peter Felsman, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral associate at Stony Brook, and Sanuri Gunawardena of U-M completed two experiments to determine if an improvisational theater experience could boost one’s well-being and creativity—measured as divergent thinking with multiple solutions to a problem.

Read the full article at Michigan News.