We've certainly spent our fair share of hours working in our local Starbucks, but we always thought it was for the free Wi-Fi. But it turns out the background noise in your average coffee shop is ideal for boosting creativity.
According to the New York Times, research has shown that complete silence makes it pretty hard to be creative, but a really loud area is distracting and irritating. Coincidentally, a mixture of semi-quiet background noise like one finds in a normal coffee shop is just about the ideal environment when one needs to concentrate and be creative at the same time. Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign had test subjects brainstorm ideas for projects in rooms with varying amounts of background noise. They found that noise around 70 decibels, like that found in a coffee shop, enhanced performance compared with the noise in quiet rooms or much noisier rooms.
“It helps you think outside the box,” said lead researcher Ravi Mehta, who suggested that extreme silence makes one focus too closely on the problem, which prevents a person from thinking in the abstract.
“This is why if you’re too focused on a problem and you’re not able to solve it,” he said, “you leave it for some time and then come back to it and you get the solution.”
If one wants the boost without actually having to go to a coffee shop (maybe you have good Wi-Fi at home), a new website called Coffitivity provides the ambient background noise of a coffee shop so users can get all the brain-boosting benefits of a coffee shop environment without actually having to leave the house or office.