Life

Coffee actually does solve all our problems, according to science

Posted by
Heloise Wood
Published
Coffee cup and saucer

We knew it all along – coffee does make you an expert problem solver.

A cup of joe is one of the things that helps us feel halfway normal when we’re sleep-deprived, stressed or generally floundering in the chaos of the world. 

Now research has proved it helps us solve problems more effectively – so you don’t need to see your morning fix as a luxury, more as a necessity for generally winning at life.

You don’t even need a lot of it for it to boost your focus.

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Scientists from the Universities of North Carolina and Arkansa studied 80 participants who consumed 200mg of caffeine (approximately one 12 oz cup of coffee), compared to those in the placebo condition.

They were then tested on standard measures of convergent and divergent thinking, working memory and mood.

The results showed that those who had consumed the caffeine sample demonstrated improved convergent skills – so they had significantly enhanced problem-solving abilities.

And while caffeine did not significantly affect working memory, test subjects who took it did report feeling less sad.

“In Western cultures, caffeine is stereotypically associated with creative occupations and lifestyles, from writers and their coffee to programmers and their energy drinks, and there’s more than a kernel of truth to these stereotypes,” said Darya Zabelina, assistant professor of psychology at University of Arkansas and co-author of the study.

Mug of coffee
Science tells us coffee makes us more efficient

However, it’s not all good news. 

It did not affect creative thinking, termed “divergent” thinking by the researchers, relating to idea generation where many interesting responses would be suitable. 

“The 200mg [of caffeine] enhanced problem solving significantly, but had no effect on creative thinking,” said Zabelina. “It also didn’t make it worse, so keep drinking your coffee; it won’t interfere with these abilities.”

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Basically, while coffee may not be the answer to all your problems, it does help you become a bit happier and more competent. 

So you can slurp guilt-free, knowing you’re becoming even faster and smarter than before.

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