Research Summary: Cannabis and Creativity, Drinking on the Job, and Political Polarization at Work
Below I review three recently published research articles, breaking them down into three sections: what it’s about, why it matters, and what you can do about it today. The three articles focus on the following:
The relationship between cannabis use and creativity,
How drinking on the job affects workplace aggression, and
Strategies for managers to deal with political polarization within their work teams.
1. Cannabis and Creativity
Our first study comes from Yu Tse Heng of the University of Virginia and her coauthors whose article, “Cannabis use does not increase actual creativity but biases evaluations of creativity,” recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
What It’s About
This study looked at how cannabis use might affect two key outcomes: (1) actual creativity and (2) a person’s evaluations of creativity. The researchers guessed that using cannabis would increase people’s joviality, defined as “good-humored cheerfulness and conviviality,” and that this joyful feeling would broaden people’s thinking and open them up to new ideas. Namely, they thought that cannabis use would help people be more creative through this emotion.
What they found is that using cannabis doesn’t actually help a person be more creative, but it does increase joviality. That joviality, it appears, makes people more favorably evaluate their own creativity and the creativity of others. So it seems, at least from this study, that cannabis use isn’t helpful for creativity—but it makes you think you and others are being creative.
Why It Matters
Creativity, or the production of ideas or solutions that are both novel and useful, has numerous benefits at work. Regardless of whether the business itself is in a “creative” industry or sector, it’s hard to find a reasonable manager or executive anywhere who doesn’t want good, new ideas that help the team or organization. Yet the somewhat common idea that marijuana use can somehow help you be more creative appears to be a myth.
What You Can Do
Continue to encourage creativity, but don’t turn to cannabis use as your means of doing so. Instead:
Continue to abide by all rules and regulations regarding substance use and the workplace, even if your cannabis use is legal in your state. Employers in the United States still have a duty to foster a safe work environment.
If the idea that cannabis use helps people be more creative comes up in conversation, dispel that myth. Cannabis use may make you think you’re creative, but it’s not likely to help you actually be creative.
As the legal and social landscape regarding cannabis use continues to evolve in the United States, stay informed. Here’s an article that might be helpful from a human resource management perspective.
2. Drinking on the Job
Emma Lei Jing, Michelle Inness, and Ian R. Gellatly—all of the University of Alberta—wrote this article, titled “The effect of alcohol consumption on workplace aggression: What’s love (and job insecurity) go to do with it?” It was published in 2023 in the Journal of Managerial Psychology.