Thu. Nov 21st, 2019

The sober truth: Drunk people are better at problem solving

Don’t get too excited though. There’s a catch…

The post The sober truth: Drunk people are better at problem solving appeared first on The South African.

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Scientists at the Mississippi State University have applied their minds to answer one of the questions that we’ve wondered about for years but haven’t quite been able to prove. Are we more creative after a few drinks?

Many of us would have had the experience of sitting up with our best buddy and partaking of the fruits of the vine. During these sessions, I’ve been known to tackle solutions for everything from world hunger to disappearing socks.

Scientific research for the win

However, is our brain any better at solving creative problems after we’ve had a few glasses of wine than when we’re sober? The good people of Mississippi State University say that we are, even if it is only up to a point.

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A group of friends on a beach. Photo: Envato Elements

The researchers dosed the study participants with alcohol up to the legal limit and had them tackle problems. As it happens, the legally drunk participants outperformed the sober ones.

The researchers think that individuals who drank were more likely to entertain multiple solutions to problems. It seems the ordinarily negative side-effect of drinking – a loss of focus – works in your favour when you’re trying to solve problems.

Professor Andrew Jarosz said of the experiment: “We gave participants 15 questions from a creative problem-solving assessment called the Remote Associates Test, or RAT—for example, “What word relates to these three: ‘duck,’ ‘dollar,’ ‘fold’?; the answer to which is ‘bill.’”

They found that the tipsy people solved two to three more problems than folks who stayed sober. They also submitted their answers more quickly within the one-minute-per-question time limit, which is maybe even more surprising.

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Business woman working. Photo: Envato Elements.

But there’s a catch

So if a couple of drinks are good for your problem-solving abilities, then are a few more even better?

Not really, no. The research seems to show diminishing returns as participants exceeded the legal limit. You know that saying, too much a good thing? Yeah. That.

Participants who exceeded the limit became worse at filtering out the bad ideas. Though I’m not sure any more research was needed to prove that.

Read – South Africa is the world’s sixth ‘drunkest’ country – report

The post The sober truth: Drunk people are better at problem solving appeared first on The South African.

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