A group of Austrian researchers has found that a pint of beer could help stir up your creative juices and boost productivity, adding weight to a theory long-held by artists who have found their greatest muse at the bottom of a bottle.
According to a study carried out by the University of Graz and published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition., a moderate amount of alcohol can loosen our brain’s controlling instincts, which allows us to have more spontaneous thoughts, say the experts.
“Alcohol is so linked with creativity,” said lead author Dr Mathias Benedek. “Previous research has found almost half of the great writers had a history of drinking. We found that a small drink can indeed help with certain aspects of creativity.”
It follows an experiment that saw a group of 132 men and women complete a series of psychological tests before and after drinking alcohol. For example, participants were asked to find the link between the words “swiss”, “blue” and “cake”.
Half of the group were given a 0.5% lager, while the other half were asked to drink a 5.2% beer.
Those who had consumed the higher strength beer were more likely to correctly guess that cheese was the linking word, scoring an average of 6/10 in the creativity tests, whereas the other half of drinkers scored an average of 4/10.“There are two theories for how this works,” explained Dr Benedek. “The first being that when you are really focusing on solving a problem, you can become fixated so that your mind gets stuck on one way of addressing it. Alcohol makes it more difficult to keep all the parameters of the task in mind, but that can also help you come at it from another direction.
“The second theory is that alcohol, which is distracting from the central task, allows you to tap into your unconscious mind and find alternative solutions,” he explained.
However, significantly, the effects were only felt by participants that consumed just one pint.