Research Design Connection: Caffeine, Creativity and Problem Solving

Many of us drink coffee every day; research by Zabelina and Silvia indicates that doing so may not provide a creativity boost we’re planning on. The Zabelina-Silvia team found that “Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychotropic drug in the world, with numerous studies documenting the effects of caffeine on people’s alertness, vigilance, mood, concentration, and attentional focus. The effects of caffeine on creative thinking, however, remain unknown…the present study investigated the effect of moderate caffeine consumption on creative problem solving (i.e., convergent thinking) and creative idea generation (i.e., divergent thinking). We found that participants who consumed 200 mg of caffeine (approximately one 12 oz. cup of coffee…), compared to those in the placebo condition [no caffeine]…showed significantly enhanced problem-solving abilities. Caffeine had no significant effects on creative generation…The effects remained after controlling for participants’ caffeine expectancies, whether they believed they consumed caffeine or a placebo, and changes in mood.” Wikipedia defines …