Get Creative (BBC)

A partnership with the BBC investigating how creative activities affect our emotions and mental health.

Get Creative was a programme of work run in partnership with the BBC designed to understand more about how creative activities affect our emotions and mental health.

The first part of this study, The Great British Creativity Test, involved cross-sectional data from 50,000 respondents exploring engagement in art activities (such as dancing, singing, playing music, painting or acting), technical or technological activities (such as woodwork, metalwork, animations and film-making), and related creative hobbies (such as cookery, reading and gardening).

The second part of this study,  The Feel Good Test, involved cross-sectional data from 45,000 respondents exploring barriers and enablers of engagement in creative activities amongst different populations.

Key findings

  • The research shows there are three main ways we use creativity as coping mechanisms to control our emotions: a distraction tool (using creativity to avoid stress), a contemplation tool (using creativity to give us the mind space to reassess problems in our lives and make plans), and a means of self-development (to face challenges by building up self-esteem and confidence)
  • We get emotional benefits from even a single session of creativity and there are cumulative benefits from regular engagement. And when we’re facing hardships in our lives, creative activities are particularly beneficial for our emotions.
  • Constantly learning and trying new creative pursuits is also more beneficial, as doing an activity for more than ten years means it can become less effective at regulating negative emotions.

Summaries and resources

The Great British Creativity Test

The Feel Good Test

The Emotion Regulation Strategies for Artistic Creative Activities scale (ERS-ACA) (a validated scale to assess the types of strategies used to regulate emotions when people engage in artistic creative activities). The paper validating the scale is here.

A sister study (Virtual Choir V) of 3,000 people was subsequently conducted, exploring engagement in virtual creative activities compared to live creative activities.

The datasets from the study have now been publicly released on the Open Science Forum (Great British Creativity Test & Feel Good Test).


BBC Arts

Programme area

Behavioural science



Principal Investigator

Dr Daisy Fancourt


Professor Robert West, UCL
Dr Claire Professor Daniel Mullensiefen, Goldsmith’s University of London