Men who drink moderate amounts of vodka become more creative
Getting a buzz can increase a man's wittiness and give him insights into tricky word-association problems, according to a new study.
Mon, Feb 13, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Normally you'd expect that imbibing in a few drinks would make men increasingly likely to attempt awkward, gauche pick-up lines, but a new study on alcohol's influence on male creativity suggests just the opposite: that getting a buzz on can actually make a guy wittier, according to ScienceNews.org.
The study found that men who drank a moderate amount of vodka and cranberry juice (or a Cape Cod) were able to solve more problems demanding verbal resourcefulness, and in less time, than sober guys. Researchers suspect that the finding may also apply to musical and artistic inspiration.
"A composer or artist fixated on previous work may indeed find creative benefits from intoxication," they said.
For the study, 20 social drinkers watched a movie while sipping on their specially prepared vodka cocktail. They were also given a light snack. Researchers were careful to limit alcohol consumption so that the volunteers' blood alcohol level reached no higher than 0.075 percent, which is just below the common cutoff for legal intoxication in the United States.
Another 20 less-fortunate social drinkers also watched the same movie without being given anything to eat or drink.
Men in both groups were then asked to give responses to 15 sets of creative word-association problems. For each set of words (one example: "peach," "arm" and "tar"), the volunteers had to think of a fourth word that formed a phrase with each of them (such as "pit").
The sober, snack-starved men took an average of 15.2 seconds to solve each word puzzle, while the men who had reached peak intoxication took only 11.5 seconds on average. By comparison, both groups performed the same on the test when it was given to them prior to the experiment.
Researchers proposed a few explanations for the unexpected results. First, it's possible that a moderate buzz loosens a man's focus of attention, thus making it easier to find connections among remotely related ideas. According to psychologist J. Scott Saults of the University of Missouri in Columbia, intoxication may aid verbal creativity partly by lowering the ability to control one's thoughts. Sault also reported that intoxicated individuals become less afraid to make mistakes, which could lead to a boost in creative insights that are both brilliant and ridiculous.
Either way, the take-away for guys here is that moderation is likely the key. It may seem like you need a few more drinks to work up the courage, but it's best to try out those pick-up lines early in the evening, while your creative window is at a peak. A study probably isn't needed to tell you how it's likely to turn out if you wait too long.
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