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June 25, 2021

Turns out, there's a reason people write at coffee shops ...

Outside of race and religion, perhaps there is no stereotype more enduring than the coffee shop writer.

Tech-051012-005-617x416There they are, hunched over a laptop, most often a Mac, papers splayed about the table. Chances are he’s wearing some type of corduroy, listening to a new band he’d sneer at you for not knowing, crafting this generation’s finest novel/screenplay/blog.

The shoe does not fit everyone, of course, and while it’s fun to poke the coffee shop scribe, could there really be something to such displays of public writing?

According to a new study, the ambient noise and general environment of a coffee shop could just be a boon to creativity.

Certainly, the exploits of coffee shop writers are well known. As the Star points out, Bob Dylan reportedly wrote “Blowin’ in the Wind” at a New York roaster. Picasso was also a regular to Paris’ Le Select café.

*Bing: How to write a screenplay

But until now, coffee shop writers appeared to be doing so for no other reason than to be, well, seen doing so.

Researchers might just have rebuked that. University of Illinois professors found that working in an environment with moderate ambient noises, about 70 decibels or so, is the most fitting to spur creativity.

“People start thinking outside of the box,” said Ravi Mehta, study co-author. “They start thinking at an abstract level, their focus broadens.”

Coffee shops commonly fall right in that 70 decibel range, and remarkably the study found that even lower levels of noise, in the 50 decibel range, hamper creativity as much as higher levels of noise (85 decibels or above).

How? Well, by the study’s findings, a moderate level of noise – versus a high or low level – improves construal thinking, “thus promoting abstract processing, which subsequently leads to higher creativity.”

Do you think better in a coffee shop atmosphere?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money

*RedOrbit.com photo



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...