Expecting innovation: Psychoactive drug primes and the generation of creative solutions

  • Hicks J
  • Pederson S
  • Friedman R
 et al. 
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Many individuals expect that alcohol and drug consumption will enhance creativity. The present studies tested whether substance related primes would influence creative performance for individuals who possessed creativity-related substance expectancies. Participants (n = 566) were briefly exposed to stimuli related to psychoactive substances (alcohol, for Study 1, Sample 1, and Study 2; and marijuana, for Study 1, Sample 2) or neutral stimuli. Participants in Study 1 then completed a creative problem-solving task, while participants in Study 2 completed a divergent thinking task or a task unrelated to creative problem solving. The results of Study 1 revealed that exposure to the experimental stimuli enhanced performance on the creative problem-solving task for those who expected the corresponding substance would trigger creative functioning. In a conceptual replication, Study 2 showed that participants exposed to alcohol cues performed better on a divergent thinking task if they expected alcohol to enhance creativity. It is important to note that this same interaction did not influence performance on measures unrelated to creative problem solving, suggesting that the activation of creativity-related expectancies influenced creative performance, specifically. These findings highlight the importance of assessing expectancies when examining pharmacological effects of alcohol and marijuana. Future directions and implications for substance-related interventions are discussed.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Alcohol use
  • Creativity
  • Expectancies
  • Marijuana use

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  • Joshua A. Hicks

  • Sarah L. Pederson

  • Ronald S. Friedman

  • Denis M. McCarthy

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