The Magic of Ambient Noise

The real reason you love writing in that coffee shop on Third Street:

working-in-a-coffee-shopby Scott Myers

70 decibels. Not 50 dBs. That’s too low. Not 85 dBs. That’s too high. Nope. 70 dBs of ambient noise appears to be just right when it comes to enhancing one’s creativity.

That’s the conclusion of this study as reported in the University of Chicago Press (December 2012).

50 decibels or less isn’t enough to heighten creativity.

85 decibels or more actually can inhibit creativity.

70 decibels is the magic number.

So we know that. But what kind of ambient noise?

I know a lot of you have the habit of transporting yourself and your laptop to the local coffee shop. Somehow the background noise of baristas in action, patron chatter, and obscure instrumental music over the sound system stimulates you to write, think, create.

For a short New York Times video on the subject, go here. In it, they talk about a website called Coffitivity. Check it out. That’s right, you don’t need to go anywhere to revel in the inspirational tones of people talking and cups clinking, whiffs of virtual java wafting through your imagination.

Speaking of which, I hate working in coffee shops. I get distracted by conversations. All those people moving around distract me. The occasional hiss of the espresso machine. The inevitable crash of some klutz dropping a dish. Plus there’s this.

I don’t drink coffee.

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