Does Drinking Make You More Creative?

Lexi Petronus, Glamour magazine

There's a quote from Ernest Hemingway that I love: "Write drunk; edit sober." (I did not learn of this quote in any of my English or writing classes. I learned this from Pinterest. Can you believe it?) I'm not much of a drinking-while-writing type--pretty sure I'd end up using my keyboard as a pillow--but it looks like science is actually backing up Hemingway.


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Hemingway's not alone, of course. There are plenty of artists who have called on the bottle (and other things) when they were writing, painting, composing, or drawing when they wanted some creative inspiration. Now, a new study in Consciousness and Cognition is showing that alcohol may actually help creative problem-solving. In other words: it really could get you thinking more creatively.

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In the study, researchers gave half of the participants (all men) vodka and cranberry cocktails; the other half teetotaled it. Everyone watched Ratatouille (this is sounding like an awesome party!) and then had to answer a series of word-association problems. The drunk guys--who had blood alcohol contents of 0.075 (just under the legal limit)--solved the problems more quickly and correctly than the sober guys.

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Plus, the vodka-swilling men solved the problems more intuitively, reporting that the answers just "came to them," instead of thinking them out in specific ways.

The researchers say that, because alcohol impairs "executive function," it may help free up parts of the mind to deal with problems in a more creative way. This opens up other questions, according to TIME's Healthland: "Perhaps creative people are more likely than others to be attracted to drugs in the first place, as a possible source of inspiration. And then, if reduced executive function is responsible in part for their initial talent, this, too, could make them more susceptible to addiction once they start using. Having less executive control before you even take drugs means you'll have less ability to stop once you start."Naturally, the findings come with a word of caution: "We tested what happens when people are tipsy--not when people drank to extreme. There could be no argument from these findings that drinking excessively would have the same effects," said study co-author Jennifer Wiley.

Very interesting, no? What do you think?


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