How alcohol can improve your creativity


A few weeks ago, I published a blog post about what brands can learn from Weatherspoons. In that post, I apologised to anyone taking part in Dry January, who may have felt envious from the talk of alcohol. I also said I’d make it up them.

Since Dry January ends tomorrow, I decided to do that now. So read on to learn about a study from issue 3102 of New Scientist, written by Helen Thomson, about how alcohol can improve your creativity.

Also, please drink responsibly.

Creative solutions

According to an experiment carried out by Andrew Jarosz of Mississippi State University, Starkville, and several of his colleagues, a small tipple of alcohol “makes it easier to solve problems that require creative solutions.”

They had 40 men complete a series of memory tests. The men were then put into pairs with similar working memory capacities. One of each pair drank a vodka and cranberry. Both of them were then asked to solve a series of word problems.

Those who drank “were better at solving problems that required thinking outside of the box.”

Why was this? Well, the theory is alcohol reduces our working memory capacity, or our “ability to focus on one thing rather than blocking out peripheral information.”

When we lower these walls, “your mind can wander, making novel connections that can otherwise be overlooked.”

Get out of your head

You hear a lot about how spending time away from your desk or computer screen is essential for creativity. And about how the idea process mostly happens away from your place of work, when you’re not trying to focus so hard on one task.

This gets a mention in copywriter Andy Maslen’s Write to Sell, and advertiser James Webb Young’s A Technique for Producing Ideas.

We won’t think of a miracle by staying inside our own heads. If we want to be more creative, we need to let our minds wander, so they can make “novel connections” between the things we usually overlook.

Other good things

A small amount of alcohol may be good for our creativity, but what else is? If you know of anything, please share it in the comments section below.


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