Does mild intoxication enhance creativity?
Television shows like Mad Men make the use of alcohol and other substances in the workplace appear to be (or, at least, to once have been) commonplace. Today’s workplace is vastly different from the show’s halcyon evocation of 1960s Madison Avenue, but it’s safe to say two things about the current corporate climate, which make alcohol consumption less-accepted in the workplace:
- Employees are constantly pressed for greater productivity, and
- The prevailing modern view of alcohol consumption is as recreation– i.e., the opposite of productivity.
On the other hand, if it has been proven that employees who break up the day with a stress-reducing activity, like meditation or a walk, show a boost in productivity, could alcohol — another stress-reliever — help too?
Slate recently cited an experiment, which used a Remote Associates Test (RAT) to measure the effects of moderate intoxication on creative problem solving. Here were their findings:
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.
Although alcohol is inappropriate for many corporate settings, the benefits of more creative thinking and problem solving can translate to a wide variety of jobs – not just advertising. As we continue to change the criteria for a healthy work environment, one that nourishes our physical and mental well beings, the measures we use to define an effective work day also change.
Perhaps the the productivity / creativity equation is due for a change, too. Moderate alcohol consumption might not be limited to happy hour… Cheers!