Can't cope when your coworker keeps cracking his knuckles? Is it hopeless to get any work done when your boss keeps chomping on chips during lunch? You're not finicky–you're simply a genius bogged down by too much creativity.
A new study published in the journal Neuropsychologia found that an inability to filter out nearby distractions is associated with higher levels of creativity. People who are more creative tend to have a harder time filtering out "irrelevant" sensory information, like your coworkers chatting by the coffee machine.
Researchers at Northwestern University had participants list their creative achievements on a questionnaire. Participants also answered several questions about unlikely scenarios that measured their "divergent thinking," or thinking outside the box. Then, researchers monitored participants' brain activity while they listened to two rapid clicking sounds. Most people ignored the second click, but those who were more easily distracted responded to it just as strongly.
They found that participants who did well in the laboratory test were better at "selective sensory gating," or the ability to filter out outside stimuli. But people who reported higher creativity during outside activities on their questionnaire had "leaky" sensory gating, and were less able to weed out distractions.
It's not the case that you can't be creative without also being easily distracted. But there are different types of creativity, and people with "leaky" sensory gating tend to think in a broad, not focused, way. Easily distracted thinkers may be more likely to incorporate outside ideas into their creative work.
So if your coworkers think you're overreacting when you tell them to stop typing so loudly, just tell them that your genius needs some space.
[via The Telegraph]
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.