Coffee increases your ability to problem solve, research finds

Caroline Allen
Contributor
But it doesn't make you more creative. (Getty Images)

Coffee increases your ability to solve problems and your focus, a new study has found.

If it’s creativity you’re looking for, though, you may be better off trying something else. The study found the heavily caffeinated drink doesn’t get our creative juices flowing.

In order to come up with this theory, the researchers gave 80 participants either a 200mg caffeine pill, equivalent to one strong cup of coffee, or a placebo.

Their overall moods, problem solving, ideas generation, thinking and memory were all tested.

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Caffeine improved the problem solving side to people’s brains but had no impact on the generation of ideas.

This means that although coffee might help you to knuckle down and get work done, it won’t help you to come up with new ideas or concepts.

Just because it doesn’t help us to come up with new ideas, doesn’t mean it impacts them either.

Coffee had absolutely no impact - either way - on our creativity. So, if you’re spurred on by a 2pm pick-me-up, there’s no need to stop.

Read more: Drinking up to four cups of coffee a day decreases diabetes risk

“In Western cultures, caffeine is stereotypically associated with creative occupations and lifestyles, from writers and their coffee to programmers and their energy drinks, and there’s more than a kernel of truth to these stereotypes.” Study author Darya Zabelina, assistant professor of psychology at Arkansas, said.

“The 200mg enhanced problem solving significantly, but had no effect on creative thinking. It also didn’t make it worse, so keep drinking your coffee; it won’t interfere with these abilities.”

It’s true. We blame films for giving us the impression that all writers drink coffee whilst painstakingly typing on typewriters - even though computers are much more efficient.

Read more: Scientists reveal why some of us feel so tired in the morning

Before you make your next problem-solving enhancing cup of coffee, it might be worth noting that experts have recently announced that we’ve been “making our coffee wrong” all this time.

The secret, according to the experts, is to use less beans and not to ground them so much before using them.

This is the opposite to what you’re likely to do at home.

Between the lack of creativity boosters and the complicated brewing, we think we’ll stick to tea.