"Drinking Alcohol May Significantly Enhance Problem Solving Skills"

by duckduckMOO1 min read12th Apr 201211 comments


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saw this on reddit. Thought people here would be interested.




edit: from a comment in the reddit thread




"The article is here for those who are interested. Going through the article, the measure they chose was the Remote Associates Test. In this test you are given 3 words like ARM, TAR, and PEACH and supposed to guess the associated word. (PIT in this case) (more here if you want to give it a shot). The three words flash on the screen and you are given 1 minute. When you 'know' the answer you press a key and write in your answer. The time to press the key and whether the answer was right are recorded. Afterward you are told to say how you came to the answer on a scale of 1-7 (1 being strategy 7 being a flash of insight). Drunk (.7 .07 (thanks Erobre) BAC) people answered slightly faster and came to 20% more solutions. (they also said their answers were based more on insight than strategy)"


The "here" links to http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053810012000037

11 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 9:23 PM
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It sounds like alcohol improved their automated, instantaneous processing - or in other words, System 1 thinking. Based on what I know about alcohol, I'd guess it still slows down your System 2 thinking considerably. In fact, that could even be an explanation for the improvement in System 1 speed: their fact-checker is disabled, so they answer with their intuition right away.

There is quite a gap between improving associated word recall and "enhancing problem solving skills".

[-][anonymous]9y 14

Seeing “ARM, TAR, and PEACH” written with capitals somewhat slowed me down because my brain went in acronym recognition mode.

(FWIW, I'm sober right now.)

I'm not surprised. Lots of notable writers were deep in the sauce.

Turning off the critic for a while seems like a good thing. I think that's one of my sources of akrasis - the Critic is mightier than the Creator. Gotta shut that Critic up to get anything done, or the Critic sees what's wrong before the Creator can get anyting down on paper.

That is a really weird exercise. I had to read several descriptions of the test to even figure out what people were supposed to do, and informally testing myself I had trouble getting any of the solutions.

I'm too drunk to comment.

I'm too drunk to comment.

Apparently not.

Yes if you substitute it with 'comment something reasonable'. This just being a placeholder pointing it out.

I had some friends in college who would drink heavily before attacking programming problems.

I tried the same on a music piece I was working on one night, worked a charm. It felt very wrong morally speaking, probably due to my own prejudices, but I got the thing done and done well.

It is good for the kind of problem solving where concentrating is detrimental.

Upvoted for the excellent summary of the study.