Previous studies have shown that self-affirmation exercises can reduce acute stress, but the link between these improvements and chronic stress-related effects was unknown. In the current research, a group of students rated their levels of stress over the last month, and half the group then performed a self-affirmation exercise. Students who had completed this exercise scored significantly higher on a subsequent problem-solving task under pressure than those who had not performed the self-affirmation.
The authors conclude, "A brief self-affirmation activity is sufficient to buffer the negative effects of chronic stress on task performance and can improve the ability to solve problems in a flexible manner during high stress periods. Our study suggests that self-affirmation may increase creativity and insight in stressed individuals."