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When we talk about getting our creative juices flowing, surely we don’t mean going on a drinking binge. According to a study published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, however, that isn’t too far from the truth either. Apparently, we become more inspired when we have had a drink or two.
To test the link between intoxication and creativity, researchers gathered 40 men—all social drinkers—as well as 40 other men who matched the first 40 on working memory scores to serve as a control group. Both groups abstained from drinks and drugs 24 hours before the experiment and refrained from eating food and consuming caffeine for four hours in advance.
When they were ready to begin, researchers gave participants bagels to eat—the amount depending on the person’s body weight to ensure that they would all reach equal levels of intoxication later on. They were then made to watch the movie Ratatouille, during which they were given individually calibrated vodka and cranberries to drink.
After an hour, researchers gave the participants a word association test. Amazingly, 58 percent of those who were given alcohol solved the problems correctly compared to the 42 percent of those who served as part of the control group. Interestingly, the tipsy group also answered each item four seconds faster than the sober group.
Researchers believe that alcohol’s tendency to slow executive functioning down is what caused the quick-fire intuitive answers. In the absence of systematic thinking, participants were able to react to the creative problems in a flash. Perhaps letting go of control can have positive effects on a person’s creativity.
Still, this doesn’t give anyone an excuse to start drinking. The study merely tested for tipsiness and not excessive drinking. Besides, there are other ways to achieve the same state of altered consciousness. Traveling, for one, is a great way to find inspiration and see the world from a new perspective.
(Photo by dalydose via Flickr Creative Commons)