Study suggests drinking helps tap into creativity
Maybe Toulouse-Lautrec was onto something. Researchers at Austria’s University of Graz found that having a pint actually improves creative function and helps stressed bodies ease into a more relaxed state.
Half of the subjects were given a Gösser Naturgold, a non-alcoholic beer, and asked to complete word association tests. Among the other half, men were told to drink a pint of (alcoholic) Gösser Zwickl beer and women about 12 ounces of the same suds.
The first portion of the test consisted of linking an unrelated word like "cheese" to "cake," "blue" and "cottage." This was repeated a whopping 10 times. The second, less effective test, gave participants 2.5 minutes to list as many creative uses for everyday objects as they could.
"We wanted to do this study because alcohol is so linked with creativity, and great writers like Ernest Hemingway," Mathias Benedek, lead author of the study, noted. "Previous research has found almost half of the great writers had a history of drinking."
According to the researchers, drinking a glass of wine or beer could be the key to helping people get over a case of writer’s block. However, the research also concluded that even though drink boosted participants’ ability to channel their inner artist, it decreased "executive functions."
What does that mean, you wonder? Well, in news that will shock no one, going on a bit of a bender impedes the motor skills that artists usually require when they’re painting or dancing, for instance.
"So it might well work for someone who is sitting down to do creative writing or brainstorming ideas in a boardroom," Benedek suggested.
He also urged moderation. "Beneficial effects are likely restricted to very modest amounts of alcohol, whereas excessive alcohol consumption typically impairs creative productivity."
So next time you plan on drinking to "get the juices flowing," keep in mind you’ll likely be stuck in a jam if you go overboard – not everyone can be as cool as Hemingway.