When people are happy, they drink. When people are sad, they drink. When people lack imagination, they -- drink? Maybe! New research suggests drinking a pint of beer can spark creativity, so while I normally prefer wine over a hard brew, the next time I have a serious case of writer's block, I may just have to take a few sips.
Researchers at the Austria University of Graz assessed two groups, half of whom were given lager that was 0.5 percent alcoholic, while the others drank beer that was just over five percent alcoholic. Each participant was issued a series of psychological tests before and after their drinks, and those who drank the stronger of the two beverages ultimately scored higher when it came to a word association task.
It turns out, a pint of beer can loosen up the mind and incite spontaneous thoughts.
If you've ever been slightly intoxicated, you've probably noticed what a nice buzz can do for the brain. Suddenly, everything clouding your thoughts dissipates, and you're left with a newfound lightness that allows you to loosen up and get a little silly.
According to Jennifer Wiley, Ph.D. and co-author of a similar 2015 study, while a significant amount of alcohol can manipulate focus, a moderate serving can spark creativity.
She told Medical Daily,
We have this assumption, that being able to focus on one part of a problem or having a lot of expertise is better for problem solving. But that's not necessarily true. Innovation may happen when people are not so focused. Sometimes it's good to be distracted.
And what better way to distract yourself than with a cold brew and a best friend to bounce ideas off of?
Beer isn't the only kind of alcohol linked to creativity, though.
If you're in dire need of a creative idea pronto, beer is an option, but don't take wine off the table just yet (cue praise emoji).
Everyone is capable of being creative to some degree, but according to commercial artist and instructor at paint-and-sip nights at Pinot's Palette in Lexington Karin Samatis, some of us need a little more encouragement than others.
She told The Boston Globe,
The wine pays off [later in the class] when someone's having a hard time. They're not so self-conscious or thinking they're doing something wrong.
Personally, I think wine tastes better than beer, and a little (less than a glass) can easily do the trick here. Less booze, more brilliance.
Getting full-out drunk, however, is not the answer to a creative slump (or anything, really).
A little goes a long way here. So if you're willing to try this method, lead author of the original study Mathias Benedek explained one drink is more than enough to get those creative juices flowing:
Consumption of a low dose of alcohol tended to impair executive control, but facilitated creative problem solving, Beneficial effects are likely restricted to very modest amounts of alcohol, whereas excessive alcohol consumption typically impairs creative productivity.
The next time you find yourself in a creative slump, there's no harm in buying yourself a beer and putting science to the test.
Cheers to that!