Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Noise Makes You More Creative

By definition, any unwanted sound is called “noise.” But there are times when “noise” can be construed as “music to one's ears” ::: You know that little background buzz when folks are talking in an internet cafe or at Border's? Researchers at the University of Illinois have discovered that buzz can help you solve problems more creatively.

I've found I do some of my best researching and creative writing (and problem solving) during the evening hours sitting at the kitchen table. I'm at my laptop with the USB mouse attached. There's a relatively quiet electric fan churning in another part of the room. I have my crank radio nearby set to a very low volume where I can understand what's being said (if I pay attention).

Research team member Ravi Mehta says the study found that a relatively (but not overly) noisy environment can make your brain think more abstractly, and you will then tend to generate more in the way of creative ideas. Sounds good to me!

The researchers tested volunteers in different scenarios, at real-life venues, in places like cafeterias, waiting rooms with televisions on; offices with heavy traffic noise or construction outside. In quiet environments (up to 50 decibels, equivalent to the slight sound of air conditioning), when they had to complete tasks that required creative solutions, participants did not fare so well. But. when they went to another room where the noise reached 70 decibels (the noise of people talking loudly but not shouting), the result was superior. Sound levels exceeding 85 decibels were found to hinder creative work.

Photo credit: @ N06

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