It may help to crack open a beer before sitting down to write that memoir. A recent study suggests being a little drunk could really help get those creative juices flowing Uncorking the muse: Alcohol intoxication facilitates creative problem solving. Jarosz, A.F., Colflesh, G.J., Wiley, J. Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL. Consciousness and Cognition, 2012 Jan 26. .
Wish we’d signed up to volunteer: Twenty participants sipped vodka-cranberries until their blood alcohol content reached .075, which happens after an average of three drinks (or probably one Long Island Iced Tea). Then they munched on a bagel, which the study authors note is a normal procedure in alcohol studies. Another 20 people didn’t eat or drink at all. All participants viewed a film and then completed a set of word problems that analyze creativity. Researchers found people who ate and drank performed better and faster on the test.
Lead study author Andrew Jarosz believes it’s the booze, and not the bagel, that caused the extra creativity: “Even after normalizing the food participants have eaten before the study, previous research has still found differences between sober controls and intoxicated participants. Based on this research, we feel that it is safe to presume the effects we found are due to alcohol, and not the bagel.”
This isn’t the first time scientists have looked at the connection between booze and creativity On the enhancement of creativity by alcohol: pharmacology or expectation? Lapp, W.M., Collins, R.L., Izzo, C.V. Research Institute on Addictions, Buffalo, NY. The American Journal of Psychology, 1994 Summer;107(2):173-206. I drink, therefore I am: alcohol and creativity. Beveridge, A., Yorston, G. Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline, Fife, UK. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 1999 Dec;92(12):646-8. . For years, many artists and authors have turned to the bottle to increase their productivity. Yet researchers are quick to note that drinking to excess can be detrimental to our physical and mental health, and may even hurt artistic abilities I drink, therefore I am: alcohol and creativity. Beveridge, A., Yorston, G. Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline, Fife, UK. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 1999 Dec;92(12):646-8. . So one or two drinks may be a-okay, but any more could have us treading in dangerous waters.
And grabbing the corkscrew shouldn’t be the go-to source for inspiration. This study doesn’t necessarily prove booze can boost creativity, especially since some scientists have questioned the validity of the word problem test. And other psychology gurus have different opinions on how to unleash that creativity. So perhaps save those extra drinks to muster up the confidence to ask out that cutie at the bar instead.