"Yes And": Exploring and Heightening the Positive Psychology in Improvisation
Arts and Humanities
Interpersonal and Small Group Communication
Other Arts and Humanities
Other Theatre and Performance Studies
Theatre and Performance Studies
This capstone contains a brief introduction to positive psychology and the art of improvisation, including a review of the literature that supports improvisation’s potential well-being effects. Also included in this capstone is a description of an exploratory study on improvisation and well-being. In this study, positive and negative affect, resilience, loneliness, and perceived life satisfaction was measured among a group of actors and improvisers from all over the United States. The study also features qualitative data, collected from the same participants, coded for positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment (PERMA) in order to consider whether working without a script offered flourishing outcomes distinct from general participation in theatre. Quantitative analysis revealed that life satisfaction scores among actors was significantly higher than those of improvisers, however the elements of PERMA showed up more frequently in the qualitative data collected from improvisers, with positive relationships mentioned significantly more often. Findings suggest that while improvisers may have a lower sense of life satisfaction, they experience more positive emotion, engagement, sense of accomplishment than actors and the study of improvisation has considerable positive effects on their relationships onstage and off. Implications for the creation of a new branch of the Positive Humanities, “Positive Improvisation,” are discussed, as well as suggestions for how to make traditional improvisation more intentionally positive.