Have a difficult problem to solve? Try vodka.

By Seriously Science | August 27, 2013 12:00 pm

Photo: flickr/super awesome

To the delight of grad students everywhere, this study has proven what we suspected all along: drinking alcohol can help us creatively solve problems. To test this, the authors gave the participants some bagels and a couple of vodka-and-cranberries, and then had them solve puzzles (sounds like an awesome date-night in my house). The results? Study participants were better at solving the puzzles after the cocktails. So next time you feel stuck on a problem, go ahead — have a cocktail!

Uncorking the muse: alcohol intoxication facilitates creative problem solving.

“That alcohol provides a benefit to creative processes has long been assumed by popular culture, but to date has not been tested. The current experiment tested the effects of moderate alcohol intoxication on a common creative problem solving task, the Remote Associates Test (RAT). Individuals were brought to a blood alcohol content of approximately .075, and, after reaching peak intoxication, completed a battery of RAT items. Intoxicated individuals solved more RAT items, in less time, and were more likely to perceive their solutions as the result of a sudden insight. Results are interpreted from an attentional control perspective.”

Bonus quote from the materials and methods:
“Upon arrival, weight, an initial breathalyzer reading, and consent were obtained, and participants ate a weight-adjusted snack of bagels (Sayette et al., 1994). After the meal, participants completed the first OSpan task, then received a vodka cranberry drink. The dose of alcohol (100-proof Smirnoff vodka) was calibrated by weight (.88 g/kg body weight), and was mixed in front of the participant at a 1:3 vodka to cranberry juice ratio.”

Related content:
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Wish you could get drunk without blacking out? Next time, have a coffee.
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: If you want to sell more alcohol, touch your customers.
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: What? I can’t get drunk from soaking my feet in vodka? :(

  • Guest

    Is it possible to find a link to the full article?

    • Odin Matanguihan

      Try clicking on the NCBI image.

  • Ramone

    Having had two close family members who destroyed their lives with alcohol (including vodka) and drug abuse–I feel “uniquely qualified” to point out that the headline to this article is extremely irresponsible. While the article itself may have scientific merit, the approach to this topic is far too glib. Your staff should know better.

    • Monkey33

      OMG relax… have a drink…

    • smoochie

      Yes, jokes should never happen, because some people make everything about them.

    • Say what

      I know a dozen people who were so religiously zealous they killed themselves to meet their creator. I feel it is irresponsible for people to preach religion.

  • http://slyck.com/ zbeast

    The story is not about over drinking it’s about moderate drinking can help you relax and make you more creative.. I personally can’t drink. booze makes me sick.. So instead I smoke pot to get the created juices flowing.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Jonathan Tracey

    I find it shameful that there was no visible control…

  • M. Fleming

    How do they know it wasn’t the bagels that gave them the added spark?

    • David Healy

      And how do they know it wasn’t Smirnoff, rather than Belvedere or some other brand, that produced the desired effect? And what if they’d used apple juice instead of cranberry? And why am I getting a headache?

      • Odin Matanguihan

        Go home. You’re drunk.

  • Don’t Even Try It!

    Were there controls used that were only given cranberry juice and then controls that were only given the vodka and finaly the combination vodka and cranberry solution? If they are going to form a conclusion based on only one form of test subjects, then they have most likelyarrived at a faulty conclusion.

    • Wong Wei

      Are you a racist or just stupid?

  • AG

    Too logical to be creative is the conclusion from numberous studies.
    To think out of box, you need to be crazy.

  • hutch1200

    I always put Vodka in my morning coffee when doing the crosswords puzzles.
    Just set the cruise control, and stay in the left lane. Makes commuting less stressful.

  • Dang

    The more puzzles you do, the more adept you are at doing puzzles. After doing a few you see what the people who created the puzzles are looking for and what they’ll let you get away with in solving them. I’m not surprised they got better. No mention of an alcohol-free control group makes this study, like most studies these days, crap.


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Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
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