Do you like alcohol? Are you always tired and sleepy? Well, better get started on your new project because you are now creative. Yes, being drunk and sleepy improves your creativity prowess. I am not making this stuff up because this conclusion is the result of a completely scientific study from the Department of Psychology in University Of Illinois at Chicago. This is totally true.
For their experiment, the researchers got a bunch of volunteers completely drunk. I am guessing that must have been an easy step. Once the participants reached ‘peak intoxication‘ (blood alcohol level 0.075) they were given a some tricky puzzles to solve. These are not linear problems that can be solved by step-by-step analysis, but these puzzles require lateral thinking. When they tallied up the results, the drunk subjects performed far better than the ones who were ‘sober‘. In fact, alcohol had increased the likelihood of a participant giving the correct answer for an insightful problem by 30 percent.
Of course, I did not read the University’s research paper since it is not hip enough for me. I read an article on the same subject in Wired.com that goes into some detail on the phenomenon. The article also showcases other experiments conducted to find out the correlation between an alert mind and its capacity to improvise. Turns out, our brain is better at lateral thinking when it’s unfocused. When we are not concentrating at anything, the brain is free to make all kinds of seemingly random connections and as it wanders its more likely that it will stumble on a real solution which is often novel and counter-intuitive.
In one experiment, researchers gave some problems that need out-of-the-box solutions to a group of normal people and a group of patients with a brain injury which caused attention deficit disorder. Surprisingly, 82 percent of the patients who could not focus on anything solved the problem beating the normal people easily. Again, the reason being the patients’ completely unfocused mind is free to make all kinds of assumptions and connections and thus more likely to find the answer to those seemingly tricky problems. Wired’s Jonah Lehrer explains:
The patients with a severe cognitive deficit … can’t restrict their search. They are forced by their brain injury to consider a much wider range of possible answers. And this is why they’re nearly twice as likely to have a breakthrough.
Although tempting, it is not a good idea to force yourself to have a brain injury just to be creative. Banging your head against the wall is never the answer. Why do that, when God has given us alcohol, the liquid terminator for brain cells. The closing argument from the Wired article is something to behold. I would print and frame it at my workplace, if only they would let me.
The next time you are in need of insight, avoid caffeine and concentration…..Instead, set the alarm a few minutes early and wallow in your groggy thoughts. And if that doesn’t work, chug a beer.
I don’t know about you, but from now on I am going to be drunk all the time. And sleepy too. Starting today a bottle of Blue Moon and a spoon of Nyquil are my bestest friends.
[Post: 210 of 365] [Days Missed: 62]
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