In a series of experiments that looked at the effects of noise on creative thinking, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had participants brainstorm ideas for new products while they were exposed to varying levels of background noise. Their results, published in The Journal of Consumer Research, found that a level of ambient noise typical of a bustling coffee shop or a television playing in a living room, about 70 decibels, enhanced performance compared with the relative quiet of 50 decibels. A higher level of noise, however, about 85 decibels, roughly the noise level generated by a blender or a garbage disposal, was too distracting, the researchers found.
The reason for this is because quiet tends to sharpen your focus, which can prevent you from thinking in the abstract. But moderate levels can distract people just enough so that they think more broadly which can help you think outside the box.
The site, called coffitivity.com was inspired by this research showing that the whoosh of espresso machines and caffeinated chatter typical of most coffee shops creates just the right level of background noise to stimulate creativity. The Web site, which is free, plays an ambient coffee shop soundtrack that, according to researchers, helps people concentrate.
So, if you’re looking for a boost of creativity and can’t get to a local Starbucks, now all you have to do is download an app with coffee shop sounds and put on your own pot.