Famous authors and artists are commonly photographed alongside a trusty mug of coffee, but that cup of joe is more likely to help the Great American Manager. Caffeine, it turns out, does not improve creativity, but it significantly enhances problem-solving, according to a new study.
This is news, given how strongly we associate coffee with creative occupations and lifestyles. The study, published today in Consciousness and Cognition, followed 80 participants after they consumed either a placebo or 200 mg of caffeine—the equivalent of 12 ounces of coffee—and then tracked their problem-solving, creative idea generation, working memory, and mood.
考虑到我们平时以为咖啡和创造性职业以及生活方式有很大联系，所以这是个新发现。这项研究现在发表在《Consciousness and Cognition》上，在80名参与者分别喝了无效对照剂和200 mg咖啡因（相当于12盎司咖啡）之后，跟踪观察他们解决问题的能力、创意的形成、工作记忆力和情绪。
While problem-solving abilities improved significantly, the caffeine had no effect on memory or creativity. Subjects also reported feeling “less sad.”
Previous studies have shown that caffeine improves alertness, focus, attention, and motor skills, but little research existed on creativity.
This means that caffeine helps some kinds of thinking, specifically convergent thinking, such as when you need correct answers, for instance, while taking a GRE or MCAT or recalibrating a budget.
It will not help you in the divergent thinking of creativity, such as brainstorming a novel plot or imagining a new design. “It also doesn’t make it worse,” notes lead author Darya Zabelina, assistant psychology professor at the University of Arkansas, “so keep drinking your coffee. It won’t interfere.”