London, Apr 2 (IANS): Looking to be creative with drugs and alcohol? It may not help you.
Debunking the age-old "rock'n'roll" myth, a team of researchers from the University of Essex in the UK and Humboldt University of Berlin in Germany showed that narcotics and alcohol are the least effective way to inspire imagination.
The findings, which comes as a blow to fans of hard-living musicians, writers and artists, instead show that complex training programmes, meditation and exposure to culture are the best ways to find a muse.
Researchers examined hundreds of papers to uncover the best ways to boost creativity.
"What worked best were complex training courses, meditation, and cultural exposure such as studying abroad," said Dr Paul Hanel, from Essex's Department of Psychology.
"We believe it is a positive message that drugs do not enhance creativity, given the side effects of drugs.
"I hope the findings will help the growing number of people who rely on their creativity to earn a living," Hanel said.
The study, published in Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, showed training which highlights mental techniques that unpack the creative process has the best long-term impacts.
It discovered that mindfulness activities like meditation and open thinking boosted imagination in the short term.
It was also found that visiting different countries and experiencing their cultures unconsciously expands horizons.
However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for fostering creativity -- with people responding better to different situations and techniques.
It is hoped the research will help schools and employers better understand creative thinking, the researchers said.
"There are many ways to enhance and encourage creative thinking," said lead author Jennifer Haase from Humboldt.
"Creativity is not a skill to be learned and then applied.
"Creativity results much more from a situational fit between the cognitive mindset and the creative challenge," Haase said.