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Caffeine: great for problem-solving but not creativity, study says

Caffeine: great for problem-solving but not creativity, study says

A lot of us rely on our morning coffee for that extra bit of focus - but what about when it comes to being creative?

Caffeine: great for problem-solving but not creativity, study says

New research from the University of Arkansas has looked at the role of caffeine when it comes to creativity.

While the effects of caffeine on focus and alertness have been studied a lot, the area of creativity is less explored.

The study, published in Consciousness and Cognition is one of the first of its kind to look at the effects of caffeine on creative thinking.

“In Western cultures, caffeine is stereotypically associated with creative occupations and lifestyles, from writers and their coffee to programmers and their energy drinks, and there’s more than a kernel of truth to these stereotypes,” said first author, Darya Zabelina.

To understand the effects of caffeine, the researchers studied 80 participants, each randomly given a 200mg caffeine pill (equivalent to a strong coffee), or a placebo. To define creative thinking, the researchers differentiated convergent thinking (seeking the “correct answer) from divergent thinking (idea generation that brings about novel or interesting responses that are still suitable).

Caffeine was found to boost convergent thinking, whereas consuming it had no notable impact on the more creative divergent way of thinking.

“The 200mg enhanced problem solving significantly, but had no effect on creative thinking,” said Zabelina. “It also didn’t make it worse, so keep drinking your coffee; it won’t interfere with these abilities.”

 

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