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Here’s some good news for those of you looking forward to the weekend: A little wine or beer may make you more creative. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) found that moderate alcohol consumption can reduce people’s ability to pay attention (as anyone who’s ever been drunk can attest), which frees them up for creative problem-solving tasks. In other words, after a few beers you might not be able to solve a math problem, but you may be able to answer a riddle.
Scientists at UIC administered vodka-cranberry cocktails calibrated to each participant’s body weight—which they drank while watching the animated movie Ratatouille, for some reason—until they had a blood-alcohol level of .07. They were then asked to solve math problems while remembering a series of words, which they did moderately well.
The surprise came during the second task, when they were presented with word-association problems that required more creative answers. The intoxicated participants correctly answered more problems in less time, and they described their answers as being more intuitive (an “It just came to me!” mindset) than their sober counterparts did. UIC researchers published their findings in the journal Consciousness and Cognition and theorized that alcohol caused them to pay less attention to the “distracting” first task, which gave them better access to “solution cues that would otherwise be ignored.”
So the next time you get drunk, don’t apologize for acting stupid. Just tell everyone you’re being creative.