One Dose of Magic Mushrooms Enhances Creativity and Empathy Up to Seven Days After Use

New research shows evidence that psilocybin improves creative thinking, empathy, and subjective well-being. The findings are published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound produced by hundreds of species of mushrooms, collectively known as psilocybin mushrooms.

For the study, researchers recruited 55 participants from a Psychedelic Society retreat. The participants at the retreat consumed psilocybin-containing mushrooms and around half of them had previously used the psychedelic.

Researchers gave participants various psychological tests to assess creativity, empathy, and general life satisfaction at three separate points: the evening before ingesting the psychedelic, once the morning after, and a final test 7 days after ingesting psilocybin.

The study found that psilocybin, taken in a naturalistic setting, increased creativity and empathy the morning after and 7 days after use. Furthermore, psilocybin also enhanced subjective well-being. Changes in well-being correlated with changes in empathy after taking psilocybin.

The researchers examined two types of creativity, convergent and divergent thinking. Convergent thinking is the ability to accurately answer standard questions that do not involve creativity, while divergent thinking is the opposite, the ability explore creative thinking. Divergent thinking abilities were improved the morning after taking the psychedelic, but convergent thinking abilities did not change. Seven days later, divergent thinking abilities returned to normal, while convergent thinking abilities improved.

The study, “Sub-Acute Effects of Psilocybin on Empathy, Creative Thinking, and Subjective Well-Being,” was authored by Natasha L. Mason, Elisabeth Mischler, Malin V. Uthaug, and Kim P. C. Kuypers.



Image adapted from: “Magic Mushrooms 2.0: Induced Synesthesia, with Spaceship Launches, and a Child-Like Mind” by Steve Jurvetson