Countless artists, musicians, scientists, and professionals swear by cannabis for enhancing their creativity and inspiring new creative works, but others have called this connection an urban legend. Previous studies exploring the effects of cannabis on creativity have been inconclusive, but a new study published in this month's Consciousness and Cognition journal has uncovered a possible explanation for the phenomenon. Lead author Emily LaFrance, graduate student at Washington State University, told PsyPost that she became intrigued by the connection between cannabis and creativity when she realized that many of her favorite artists and musicians were all cannabis users.
The researchers administered personality and creativity tests to 412 cannabis users and 309 non-users, and also asked the subjects to rate their own creativity. None of the cannabis users were actually high at the time of these tests. The sober cannabis users self-reported higher creativity than non-users did. However, the cannabis users did not report having completed more creative works that non-users. The researchers found that cannabis users were more extraverted, more open to experience, and less conscientious than non-users. The cannabis users also demonstrated superior convergent thinking ability, which is the ability to choose the "correct" answer from a number of possibilities, like on a multiple-choice test.
The researchers concluded that the cannabis users' increased creativity is "an artifact of their heightened levels of openness to experience." LaFrance explained to PsyPost that "the average person should understand that according to the results of this study, cannabis users may be more creative than non-users, but this is not because using cannabis has increased their creativity." LaFrance added that "certain personality traits tend to increase the likelihood that one will use cannabis, and that they will also be more creative."