Does alcohol make you more creative?
Great news for all boozers looking for an excuse to drink (and not such great news for teetotalers with creative aspirations); researchers seem to have confirmed what many long suspected: alcohol makes you more creative. This obviously invokes the question: should you organise your next brainstorm session in a nearby pub?
I won’t deny having participated in the odd beer-fueled creative session with friends in a local pub.
The ideas appear to be most creative somewhere between the point where you order the first beer and the point where the barman starts looking at you funny. It seems a little bit of Dutch courage positively impacts your idea output.
A small scientific experiment at the Mississippi State University seems to show that this effect is not merely a figment of our booze-fueled imagination. Alcohol really does help you to think more creatively.
Why does alcohol lead to more creative solutions?
Numbing your brain with a shot of the good stuff makes you abandon fixed thinking patterns. A sober mind easily filters out all irrelevant information and allows you to focus on the information that (judging by previous experiences and existing knowledge) seems most useful. This is great when having to make quick decisions, yet hinders creativity (as unusual options are typically the most creative).
Alcohol is the thug that kneecaps your brain’s filter. No longer capable of efficiently filtering irrelevant alternatives, your brain is a lot less focused. This lack of focus allows you to consider many different possibilities. Not just the most logical (and boring) ones. A tipsy brain is less biased and gives strange, wild and absolutely ridiculous ideas a fair chance.
A tipsy mind is an open mind.
The idea that alcohol makes you more creative is not new.
A couple of years ago, Danish brewer ‘Rocket Brewing Company’ launched an alcoholic beverage that supposedly makes you more creative: The Problem Solver. This ‘delicious way to reach your creative peak’ brings 7,1% of creativity fuel to the table and is based on earlier research that indicated that when reaching an alcohol level of 0,75‰, the average person comes up with the most creative solutions. The Danes even added a handy scale to the side of the bottle, showing you exactly how many sips you are removed from your creative breakthrough.
Shots for all?
Should you then immediately grab a beer any time a creative solution is required?
No. Unfortunately, it’s not necessarily justified to enthusiastically reach for a refreshing beverage. There are better (and healthier) ways to escape your (limiting) thinking patterns.
Just like depriving yourself of sleep, downing a couple of pints might certainly lead to more (unusual) alternatives. However, these creative results are also attainable without sacrificing your night’s rest or sobriety.
If you’re looking for a creative boost, there are many thinking techniques to choose from. To force yourself to look for solutions in unlikely places, you might, for instance, ask yourself how an infamous celebrity would handle your challenge. Or ask yourself what would happen if you would first make the situation even worse!
Even the task of picking the right thinking techniques for your particular challenge doesn’t have to be a hassle. We’ve created an application that serves you the perfect combination of fun and effective techniques to tackle your challenge; Brightstorming. The application is currently available in Dutch and an English version will follow soon.
These healthy ways of sparking creativity are not only more sustainable than intoxicating your brain every time you need to be creative, they also allow you to be analytical immediately after generating your creative ideas. Critical thinking and a narrow focus might hinder creativity sometimes, but for evaluating and improving ideas they are indispensable. It’s fun to generate many wild ideas, but if you’re unable to distinguish between good and bad ideas, you might end up with a very crappy approach.
Just like staying up all night, having a few drinks might help you to generate more creative ideas. This, however, is not the most practical way of sparking your creativity. By all means, enjoy a refreshing beverage every now and then, but don’t reach for the bottle just because you need ideas…
Would you like to experience how Brightstorming leads you and your team to original ideas without a drop of booze?
Shoot me an email and I’ll keep you posted on the launch date of the English version.