A dose of creativity
: an integrative review of the effects of psychedelics on creativity

  • Miguel Ângelo Lexim Rouçado Oliveira Costa (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Background: Creativity is an important asset in the modern world. It can be defined as the ability to come up with ideas or artefacts that are original and valuable. Classic psychedelic drugs (i.e., dimethyltryptamine, psilocybin, lysergic aciddiethylamide, and mescaline) have long been hailed as substances that can enhance creativity in their users. The recent resurgence in psychedelic research has brought with it the opportunity to understand the psychological, cognitive, and behavioural effects that these drugs exert in humans. This integrative review was conducted in order to summarize the knowledge pertaining to the effects that psychedelics can have on creativity byanalyzing every study to date that assessed creativity through psychometric measures. Methods: A search was conducted on the MEDLINE, Web of Science, andPsycINFO databases for studies published until 17 November 2020, along side other relevant sources, that assessed changes in creativity along side psychedelic administration. Results: Out of the 314 studies identified, a total of 10 studies were included andanalyzed, of which 5 were quasi-experiments, 4 were observational/naturalistic, and only1 was a randomized controlled trial. All four of the main psychedelic compounds were represented. Every study assessed components and subcomponents of divergent and convergent thinking, with only one instance of product assessment. In most studies, divergent thinking increased during the acute stage of the drug intake and convergent thinking increased in the long-term. Conclusions: Psychedelics may be able to enhance divergent thinking in the acutephase and convergent thinking in later phases. However, evidence is limited due to the low number of studies available, small sample sizes, lack of randomized controlled trials, and significant methodological limitations throughout most studies. Potential mechanisms underlying these effects are discussed, along with suggestions for future studies.
Date of Award6 May 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorPedro Zuzarte (Supervisor) & Filipa Ribeiro (Co-Supervisor)


  • Ayahuasca
  • Convergent thinking
  • Creativity
  • Dimethyltryptamine
  • Divergent thinking
  • Hallucinogens
  • Lysergic acid diethylamide
  • Mescaline
  • Originality
  • Psilocybin
  • Psychedelics


  • Mestrado em Neuropsicologia

Cite this