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Matthew Yglesias at Slate recently examined the question of whether people were more productive in the days of the three-martini lunch. While he couldn't find any research that made a direct one-to-one comparison of our work output compared to the productivity of folks in the boozy "Mad Men" era, he did find plenty of evidence that a little bit of alcohol helped boost creativity.
Yglesias quotes a research paper from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Entitled "Uncorking the Muse," the paper showed that subjects with a blood alcohol content of approximately .075 performed better on the Remote Associates Test, which measures creative problem solving.
"Intoxicated individuals solved more RAT items, in less time, and were more likely to perceive their solutions as the result of a sudden insight," the authors wrote.
This theory will be familiar to programmers, who have been relying on the Ballmer Peak for years. (Discovered by Microsoft programmers in the 1980s, the Ballmer Peak states that a BAC between 0.129 and 0.138 will confer "superhuman programming ability.")
While 0.129 is legally drunk just about anywhere, a BAC of .075 wouldn't even get you pulled over in most states, and works out to be about two to three drinks for a 180-pound male. That's hardly falling-down drunk. Still, if you're looking for an excuse to introduce happy hour to your office, this just might be the ticket.
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