The Real Psychology Behind Crossword Puzzles

by Max Fragar
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 Have you seen the movie “The Imitation Game” which is based on Alan Turing?

If you have seen the movie, I’m sure you noticed how at one point Turning, when he needed to hire people to work under him, took the help of a difficult crossword puzzle in a newspaper to test potential applicants.

Crossword puzzles are an amazing way to pass time. If you are someone who loves solving crossword puzzles, this post will amaze you.

You will be glad to learn that science has explained why crosswords are good for your brain. Online word puzzles are being created to enhance vocabulary and improve logical reasoning and other skills. However, there are long lists of benefits of solving puzzles.

What Researchers Have to Say?

Many researchers have discovered the positive effects that crossword puzzles can have on one’s brain if you are a frequent player.

Well, frequent doesn’t necessarily mean every day, twice or thrice a week would do. Among these researchers is Ann Lukits.

She is the one who wrote “Puzzles Boost Verbal Skills, Cut Dementia Risk” for the Wall Street Journal.

She firmly believes that solving crosswords on a regular basis can “improve memory and brain function in older adults.”

All these activities can also “improve mental functions in patients with brain damage or early dementia.”

If an individual solves crossword on an app, it is highly beneficial but working in a group adds a bigger advantage to one’s brain function.

Well, one major factor of collaborative cruciverbalism is the ability to think creatively in a more strategic fashion. The other factors are fairly easy to capture.

When someone involves themselves in such a mind-boggling activity, it helps you vastly by improving your verbal skills, making you solve problems, and forcing your mind to think deeply.

Puzzle lovers are not the only ones saying that doing puzzles makes you happy. It has been scientifically proven that solving jigsaw puzzles enhances your mood and spirits.

And this is done in more ways than one. Dr. Stephan Lermer (Communication Psychologist) has also discovered the same as he says “Firstly, surprising sub-goals are achieved when doing a puzzle.”

“Secondly,” adds Lermer, “there is also the overall result, which symbolizes ‘I did it!’ that can be displayed and brings admiration and recognition.

I like to differentiate between arrogant and healthy pride – people who do puzzles can be proud of themselves in a healthy way.”

Psychology Behind Crossword Puzzles

The real psychology behind puzzles is it was initially created by Arthur Wynne from Liverpool when he thought a new game should be developed that has to be interesting and becomes a part of a popular newspaper.

That publication on December 21, 1913, just before Christmas became an overnight success and many people bought that newspaper only to solve the puzzle

Well, the rest is history.

There is a lot behind these crosswords. The crossword constructors develop them today to enhance individuals’ learning ability, retention power, vocabulary, logical reasoning skill, and analytical skills.

It has now been considered as a brain game that helps to exercise the mind.

Besides these, here are the benefits that you should consider.

1) It Avoids Alzheimer & Dementia

This is one of the main reasons for solving crossword puzzles. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, a daily dose of crossword puzzles is the best way to keep the brain active and sharp, especially as you grow older.

2) They trigger bonding if solved in a group.

Collaborative cruciverbalism means working together in a group.

This group that will solve crossword puzzles can be friend’s group, family group etc. Working in group while solving puzzles will “improve the speed of thinking and talking.” It can also strengthen social bonds.

3) They teach new words.

This is a great way to improve your vocabulary. Through crosswords, you are learning new words constantly.

When you don’t know the meaning of a word, you can explore the dictionary and add it to your vocabulary.

4) They engage you deeply

Whenever you are solving crossword puzzles, you should dig deeper into the problem at hand.

This clearly means you are less focused on your own problems. Playing online word games is a great way to relax and forget your worries for a little while.

5) Help in dealing with your problems in life

Crossword puzzles are a little tricky. Despite playing the easiest level available.

You have to rack your brain in order to solve one. This will certainly help you deal with your issues in life and help solve problems.

If you can understand the pattern of a puzzle, you can quickly solve as you keep practicing.

6) They offer a fun way to overcome boredom!

Are you lonely, depressed, anxious, or bored?

Open an online crossword app and solve a crossword puzzle. This helps you to relax, keep your mind engaged, and just have fun!

Even if you are not a puzzle person, you don’t have to worry.

Go ahead and give crossword puzzles a try and you’ll be hooked in no time for sure!

7) Exercise both sides of your brain

The two brain hemispheres of your brain control different functions. The left side of your brain controls analytic and logical thinking and the right-side controls creativity.

When you are working on puzzles, you are engaging both sides and giving your brain a real mental workout.

8) Enhance your memory

Working on online crossword puzzles reinforces the connection between your brain cells. This is a great way to improve short-term memory.

You should use your mind in the process of completing crosswords when you remember shapes, sizes, and pieces and visualize where they fit in.

Many studies have shown that the growth of new brain connections will reduce the amount of brain damage in Alzheimer’s patients.

9) Improve your problem-solving skills 

The ability to solve issues and think critically is useful in almost any life situation and puzzles.

As crosswords require us to take different approaches to solve them, you learn how to work by trial and error.

You can formulate and test theories, and how to change tracks if not successful according to USA Today.

10) Enhance visual and spatial reasoning

If you practice crossword puzzles, it will improve your visual and spatial reasoning skills and that translates into being a better driver.

11) Your Mood Gets Better

One of the brain benefits of the crossword is that they improve the production of dopamine.

It has a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, memory, and concentration. Dopamine is a hormone that is released with every success as we solve the puzzle.

No wonder this is the reason why puzzles become interesting and playing online puzzle games is so much fun!

12) They are stress buster

Puzzles invigorate our brains, but they are also very soothing. While you are concentrating on how to solve the puzzle,

the brain is focusing on one task and this encourages the brains to go into a meditative state.

This results in a better mindset and better stress coping skills.

13) You Get a Nostalgia Boost

Nostalgia is one of the most powerful forces when it comes to maintaining a healthy brain.

When anyone connects with your past, the neural connections are strengthening which gives more happiness.

Words are powerful. Whenever you search your memory for a particular word or connection, you are forced to go back in time.

Agree? Think about it.

How many times has there been an instance where you remembered an event, person or association, while working on a crossword puzzle? If not, try daily crossword puzzles once and you will realize.

You have already had an amazing life and your fun time can become a time for remembering.

14) Can Help to Relieve Stress

Most individuals think that life becomes sorted and stress-free after 60. However, it is only a myth which is not true.

Those living in their 60’s still face a lot of stress. Many are worried about their financial situation.

Others are struggling to find meaning in life especially when situations are changing. While others are dealing with medical challenges.

With so much going on in everyone’s life, you need to pause and look for ways to turn off the noise in your head and just relax.

Like meditation and breathing exercises, online crossword word puzzles can help you to indulge in something interesting and escape into a beautiful world.

Whenever you are focused on solving a crossword puzzle, you shut out the world and concentrate on the task in front of you.

Studies have proved that these small breaks from the real world help you to feel calmer and happier.

Solving crosswords can also help in building the mental reserves to deal with life’s little stresses when they come our way.

 15) Boost in Your IQ Score

As online puzzles for adults promise to improve memory, concentration, vocabulary, and reasoning skills, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that it also helps in increasing IQs.

A University of Michigan study depicted that solving puzzles for at minimum of 15 minutes a day can boost the IQ of 4 points.

16) Making the Most of Your Brain

When an individual solves a crossword, that person sharpens the brain. The brain train games and brain exercises are clinically proven to help people think faster, focus better, and remember more.

17) They improve the working memory

By working memory, we mean both long-term and short-term memory.

Crosswords and logic problems where you have to constantly access vocabulary and definitions from memory can help to improve working memory.

This further has an effect on the learning and achievement of an individual.

18) Work pace improvement

Word puzzles certainly help in improving the processing speed of the mind. So, you are able to problem-solve and arrive at the correct answer, faster.

This doesn’t just help with literacy, but also with other simple tasks that require quick thinking.

19) This encourages and improves problem-solving skills

Online daily puzzles make you think how every word interacts with one another on the grid.

You are encouraged to think of multiple possible solutions before deciding at the correct answer.

Many online easy crosswords for beginners not only require good vocabulary or good spelling, but they also require the ability to think logically and strategically.

You have to think outside the box, engaging problem-solving skills and creativity.

20) Foster persistence

Cryptic crossword puzzles can be challenging, some more than others. At times, they require more than one attempt to reach the correct answer.

Therefore, persistence is often needed to keep trying once one has failed repeatedly.

You will experience many failures many times over the course of their lives. This is where you don’t get something right the first time and need to try again.

The lesson of “if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again” is a good one. And the best part is, it will help you through many difficult and sometimes disheartening challenges.

21) Assist with improving test-taking skills

Free crossword puzzles help to develop the skills you will need throughout your career.

This includes verbal reasoning, vocabulary, problem-solving, spelling, grammar, and memory.

The more these skills are practiced, the better it is. Well, this in turn makes the processing of the mind faster, which impacts the performance.

When these skills are mastered, all this makes a significant difference in your life as you are already ready to give a test. 

22) It improves self-esteem

The accomplishment of achieving a goal brings so much satisfaction to everyone. 

Overcoming challenges involved in solving a word game for beginners really gives \a sense of achievement and pride within themselves. 

It gives a boost to self-confidence and self-esteem as all this prepares you for diverse challenges in life.

23) You can solve anytime, anywhere

Online puzzles games and word searches don’t need to be plugged in and charged. They can go anywhere!

They are a portable way to keep you busy especially on a long journey or when you are waiting at the airport or at a doctor’s appointment.

 Even verbal riddles, which you can make up yourself, are a great cost-effective way to engage yourself and learn simultaneously.

Even printable crossword games are a fun way that challenges young minds, teaching and preparing some very important life skills.

Now, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and try to solve them.

Have fun!

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