Can Alcohol Make You More Creative?
Hanging out with some friends over the weekend is sometimes all you need to de-stress from work and to get ready to face another tough week ahead of you. Oftentimes, these meet ups are accompanied with a few alcoholic drinks. After all, drinking liquor in the Philippines has become a huge part of Filipino customs.
It’s simply what Filipinos do when they want to lower their inhibitions so they can have some well-deserved break from all their stresses and worries. It enables them to somewhat get away from their problems for even a short period of time.
Admittedly, alcohol has been proven to mess with the brain’s capacity to memorize experiences, which is why when you’re intoxicated, there is a high chance you’ll end up forgetting a few things you did the night before.
However, it is also important to point out that alcohol does have some positive effects. For example, drinking alcohol can boost your creativity.
How does Alcohol Boost Creativity?
When alcohol is taken moderately—and not excessively—it will impede the brain’s primary processes and the working memory. When this happens, people’s ability to be aware of everything that happens around them is drastically lowered. This means that the body’s capability to focus on multiple tasks will be reduced to simply focusing on just a single task with immense difficulty. Basically, this is the reason why it’s illegal to drive while you’re drunk because when you’re inebriated, you’ll have trouble processing even menial tasks; thus, making it dangerous to do things that can potentially harm one’s life.
But whatever is reduced or lowered in our brain is compensated by increasing our brain’s capacity to make creative ideas. Researchers have conducted experiments that prove that people who have drunk alcohol can answer problems that promote “outside the box” thinking faster than people who are sober.
One such experiment entitled “Uncorking the Muse: Alcohol Intoxication Facilitates Creative Problem Solving” proved that alcohol does get people’s creative juices flowing. In this study, test participants were asked to get drunk until they reached a .075 blood alcohol content (BAC), which is just under the .080 BAC legal limit.
The researchers, then, gave them a problem that required creative-thinking for it to be solved. The participants were given the words “peach”, “arm”, and “tar.” The test subjects had to connect a single word to the three given words that would make them into two-word phrase. This test was perfect for testing the creativity of each participant because the most common answers were usually incorrect. Obviously, the drunken participants produced the correct answer faster than those who were sober. Plus, they were proven to be insightful because they produced different results, aside from the correct answer.
Another experiment entitled “Newt/Judge Experiment” involved a group of men that were split into two teams. Both teams were required to do an ad-campaign about binge drinking. The only difference between the two teams was one team could drink alcohol whenever they wanted, while the other team could only drink water. They were given three hours to produce the ad-campaign, and then they will be judged by marketing experts. After the teams’ ad-campaigns were assessed by creative directors, the team, who was allowed to drink, came up on top with four out five best ideas.
Eureka (I’ve Found It) Moments
Through the collaboration of Northwestern University and Drexel University, it has been proven that when alcohol is consumed moderately, people tend to have more “eureka!” moments. These are the moments when your mind discovers something that you did not know prior to being inebriated. Through the use of brain scans, the research conducted by the two universities, found that when people focused too hard on solving a problem, they actually block out the creative process in the brain, which can explain the phenomenon of writer’s block—even mental block. But when participants were relaxed and inebrated, they’d have more “eureka!” moments compared to those, who try to focus too hard.
This is, of course, complementary to their alcohol intake because when alcohol is taken moderately—and not excessively—it relaxes every process of the body to the point that it increases the chances of having a “eureka!” moment!
Moderation Is Key
As stated, alcohol dulls the executive processes of the brain while increasing the creative processes. All of the events stated above are through taking alcohol in moderation, and not in large amounts. Hence, when you’re having difficulty in solving a problem, you can take a sip of alcohol to get the creative juices flowing!
But, if you’ve had one too many glasses to drink, you’re bound to get in trouble. Why? Because the University of Missouri researchers found that when you’re excessively drunk, the process in your brain that warns you if you’re about to make a mistake is drastically duller—to the point of it not even working. That’s why when you’re going out for some drinks with your friends, it’s better not to drink too much to avoid doing embarrassing mistakes.
Alcohol can definitely make you more creative, but it can also make you do stupid mistakes that you otherwise wouldn’t do if you were sober. That’s why you should drink in moderation and not excessively. By doing this, it can help you be more creative and also avoid the pain of a hangover the next day!