Percolating ideas: The effects of caffeine on creative thinking and problem solving

In a randomized placebo-controlled between-subject double-blind design the present study investigated the effect of moderate caffeine consumption on creative problem solving and creative idea generation

Darya L. Zabelina; Paul J. Silvia


Scholarcy highlights

  • Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychotropic drug in the world, with 85% of adults in the US consuming at least one caffeinated beverage daily
  • The two groups did not differ significantly in age, t(82) = 1.40, p = .165, Cohen’s d = .31. 3.1 Effects of Caffeine on Convergent Problem Solving Independent-samples t-test indicated that participants who consumed caffeine solved significantly more Compound Remote Associates problems compared to the control group, t(70) = 2.37, p = .021, Cohen’s d = .56, suggesting a medium-size effect
  • The present study investigated the effect of caffeine on creative thinking and problemsolving abilities
  • In a double-blind placebo-controlled design study, we found that in people who consume a moderate dose of caffeine on a daily basis, consuming 200 mg of caffeine in a laboratory session significantly enhanced convergent problem-solving ability, but had no effect on divergent thinking or working memory
  • These effects remained when controlling for individual differences in caffeine expectancy, for believing whether or not one consumed a caffeine capsule, and for changes in mood throughout the session
  • Research consistently shows enhanced concentration and attentional focus associated with caffeine consumption, and such attentional improvements are reasonable mechanisms for changes in convergent problem-solving tasks with correct answers
  • Caffeine did not affect creative idea generation, measured with the Abbreviated Torrance Test for Adults battery of divergent thinking tasks

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