Are Stoners More Creative?

Let’s talk about creativity, man.

In 2012, residents of Washington state voted to make recreational marijuana illegal. This year, researchers from Washington State University published a study aiming to clarify the relationship between marijuana and creativity.

Is there a connection there? I don’t know, dude. There are connections everywhere if you know how to look…

Anyway, the researchers surveyed both hundreds of non-users of cannabis and hundreds of regular, currently sober cannabis users. The surveys investigated participants’ personality, cannabis consumption habits and creativity.

As it turned out, the cannabis users reported that they had significantly higher creativity (no pun intended).

Moreover, this wasn’t just their perception – there was some data to actually back up their assertion. In particular, they scored better on a test measuring convergent thinking, which is a particular type of creativity that psychologists sometimes look at.

The next logical question, of course, is why tokers apparently excel when it comes to at least some kinds of creative thinking.

The answer may lie in their personality. The researchers found that the cannabis users also scored higher on a personality trait called openness to experience. As the name suggests, this personality trait has to do with people’s tendency to seek out and appreciate novel and interesting experiences.

Not only is this trait associated with creativity, but the researchers found that in this case, it completely accounted for the link between cannabis consumption and creativity. Although there’s more research to be done, it looks like a plausible explanation may be that people with higher levels of openness to experience may be both more creative to begin with and more, well, open to the experience of getting high.

In other words, stoners quite possibly are more creative on average. Not necessarily because they’re stoners, though, but because having higher levels of openness to experience predisposes people both to being creative and to becoming stoners.

Image: Flickr/Health Alseike