The study adds to research suggesting that small doses of distraction — including hard-to-read fonts — prompt the mind to work at a more abstract level, which is also a more creative level. (The possibility that sound energized people was considered but rejected: Participants’ heart rates did rise when they first encountered noise, but soon subsided.) The effect of noise is inverted-U-shaped, this study suggested: There’s a sweet spot between silence and din.
I wonder how much of this is about the noise versus the environment. I find that in an airport I tend to get a lot of work done. I think it just has to do with the change of scenery and the specific amount of time I’m there.