The study consisted of 412 marijuana users (they couldn’t find 8 more?) and 309 non-users, and they attempted to answer the question: Does smoking marijuana make you more creative?
Emily LaFrance, the co-author of the study and graduate student at Washington State University, says she first became interested in the topic when she noticed that a lot of her favorite artists admit they smoke marijuana. “This cannabis use was commonly thought to have been
a cause of the creative success of many artists,” she explains. “I began to wonder about this commonly held idea – are cannabis users really more creative than non-users?”
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The study is called “Inspired by Mary Jane? Mechanisms underlying enhanced creativity in cannabis users” and was published in Consciousness and Cognition. It examined the participants over a variety of areas including psychological tests, and measuring creative works and achievements.
Some major points from the study include:
- Cannabis users were more likely to be extroverted and open to new experiences.
- Cannabis users reported higher levels of artistic creativity, but not a higher amount of creative achievements or completed works.
- Cannabis users performed better on a convergent thinking test (which tests creative problem solving).
Overall, they did find that those who use marijuana are more creative than their counterparts who do not use it, but when they dug deeper they made a startling discovery.
When the scientists included the personality traits into the data, they realized that these traits on their own could determine whether a person is more open to using marijuana, as well as drive a tendency to be more creative.
“Cannabis users may be more creative than non-users,” LaFrance says, “but this is not because using cannabis has increased their creativity.” She goes on to explain that it’s the fact that marijuana users “are more open to experience than non-users, and this openness to experience is associated with both cannabis use, and heightened creativity.”
So there you have it: if you smoke pot you’re probably more creative than people who don’t… but it’s not necessarily the weed that’s got your creativity going. It was you all along!
Note: This study was conducted with all subjects being sober, meaning none of them were under the influence of marijuana during the test.
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