Why It's More Difficult To Be Creative At The Library

When you need to be most creative, should you head to the library or coffee shop?

According to a recently published study in the Journal of Consumer Research, to optimise creativity, coffee shops tend to be a better setting than a silent study room. 

The study says: 

“[I]nstead of burying oneself in a quiet room trying to figure out a solution, walking out of one’s comfort zone and getting into a relatively noisy environment may trigger the brain to think abstractly, and thus generate creative ideas.”

Basically, a moderate level (70 dB) of noise “enhanced subjects’ performance on the creativity tasks” and was most efficient for the participants’ creative skills compared to low (50 dB) and high (85 dB) levels of ambient noise. 

“Modest background noise creates enough of a distraction to encourage people to think more imaginatively,” the researchers say. 

The chart below shows the decibel levels for common noise sources:

noise level

Purdue University

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