From late trumpeter Louis Daniel Armstrong to singer Willie Nelson, many artists have openly accepted their love for cannabis as they believe that consuming marijuana allows them to be more creative.
But is it really the case? Or is it just the tendency of creative people to get attracted towards the leafy drug?
Before talking about a study that was conducted in the year 1975, it is better to first be well-acquainted with the terms convergent and divergent thinking
Convergent thinking is straightforward. It usually involves solving problems or questions with one clear-cut answer. Take for instance this basic question- what is 2+2? The simple answer to this ‘problem’ is 4, which people will answer spontaneously, without any second thought of filtering out other possibilities.
Divergent thinking, on the other hand, is rather abstract and involves choosing and segregating probable outcomes from a set of possibilities. Putting simply, the process of convergent thinking happens after divergent thinking – you choose one solution after you have looked at all the outcomes.
During the study, 53 regular cannabis users were given either a low-THC dose of marijuana, a high-THC dose or a placebo. Subjects then had to undergo a few creative tests which checked for the performance of their convergent and divergent thinking.
No noticeable difference was observed in the convergent part of all the subjects. However, the ones who were administered a high quantity of THC were the worst performers at their creative tests, whilst the other participants (with low THC and placebo) performed quite the same.
A few burning questions that this study, conducted 4 decades ago, may fail to answer:
- It is a commonly-known fact that marijuana affects each individual differently. Studying just 53 participants, only a handful of which were given high THC, this study is quite narrow.
- Would the subjects perform well had they been sitting in the comfort of their living room?
- What if other strains of cannabis were used?
In this study, which was conducted by Washington State University in the year 2017, researchers took into consideration around 700 people, out of which 400 subjects were cannabis users, while the remaining were, of course, non-consumers.
After carrying out a few creative psychological tests on the ‘sober’ subjects, it was concluded that cannabis users showed a slight edge over non-cannabis users in terms of creativity.
However, the researchers argued that the former set wasn’t creative because of its consumption of the drug, but rather because of the differences in the personality traits. Cannabis users were more open to new experiences — the primary reason why they tried marijuana in the first place. Being open to new experiences meant that the users were extroverts, more confident and therefore somewhat more creative.
None of the studies mentioned above could confirm that people who consumed cannabis were creative because of the drug they were using. Embracing the feeling of being creative after an evening puff is just normal.