Human Resources News & Insights

How a few cocktails can help you solve those knotty HR problems

Now here’s the kind of research we can get behind. A new report out of the University of Illinois suggests a way we can all ratchet up our problem-solving skills: drink on the job.

It’s true. Researchers got a group of volunteers reasonably smashed — to the point where they blew a 0.075 on a breathalyzer (pretty close to the 0.08 threshold most jurisdictions use as a standard for drunk driving) — and then put them to work on a series of 15 brain teasers.

And guess what? The tipsy group outperformed the sober control group — the drinkers averaged 8.7 correct answers to the 15 questions, the unfortunate teetotalers just 6.3.

What’s more, the sots answered the brain teasers more quickly — by an average of four seconds per question.

So does this herald a return to the three-martini lunch? Alas, probably not.

The tests administered to the group were designed around non-linear thinking.  The researcher would give the subject three words and ask what word could be associated with them. Example: “blue, cottage and swiss” would (or should) elicit the response “cheese.”

So while getting a little snockered might help in a case where you need to take an imaginative approach to a problem, it’s probably not going to be much help with a purely logical, straightforward dilemma.

Or so the researchers said. Us, we’re still hoping for a new program of 3 o’clock cocktails for a staff pick-me-up.

If you want to shell out $31.50, you can get the whole story from Uncorking the Muse: Alcohol Intoxication Facilitates Creative Problem-Solving.

At that price, we suggest you have a couple of cocktails before diving in.

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