Research Proves It! Love Inspires Creativity.

flower in handsIt may seem obvious that feelings of love go hand-in-hand with heightened creativity. Artists of every type have created masterpieces motivated by love: paintings, plays, songs, sculpture. I’ve certainly written my share of love-inspired essays, fictional scenes and other pieces. Starting with some very bad poetry at the age of 15 when the boy I was smitten with moved on.

But when psychologists decided to study this connection, they found both that love inspires creativity and that lust inspires analytical thinking. Two different studies prompted students to think of either romantic or sexual situations. Afterwards, the subjects who’d been thinking of sex performed better on logic problems, while the students reflecting on love were best at solving problems requiring creativity.

The researchers concluded that love causes people to think about long-term goals, which involves taking an imaginative leap. This enhances holistic thinking and creativity. Lust, on the other hand, inspires dedication to more short term pursuits, thereby heightening analytical ability.

I can’t sum up this blog post any better than this Miller-McCune article about the research did: “This explains theheart relative paucity of Odes to a One-Night Stand.”

Except to say if you’re feeling creatively blocked, why not kiss someone you love? Or, as researchers had subjects do in one of the studies, imagine taking a long walk with your beloved. It just might set your muse on fire.

Copyright @ Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World,


6 Responses to “Research Proves It! Love Inspires Creativity.”

  1. 1 Keith September 2, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Very interesting. Have you seen any research on the power of suffering as it spurs creativity? Because guys like Robert Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson might take exception to all this love talk… it’s usually the lack thereof that made them sing the blues!

    • 2 stranglingmymuse September 2, 2009 at 1:57 pm

      Yes, but they’re still thinking about love as they bemoan their lack of it. So the theory that they’re making a creative leap by thinking long-term holds true. Nobody loves me, and nobody will ever love me…

  2. 3 Kathy September 2, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    When I’m happy, I just want to play. I write when I’m longing for something I don’t have. Oh yes, I’m loving something I don’t have and not having it makes me write. 🙂

    • 4 stranglingmymuse September 2, 2009 at 3:23 pm

      Kathy and Keith, both your comments are making me think it would be fascinating to see a study on creativity and satisfying love versus creativity and loss of or yearning for love. Those bad poems I mentioned writing in high school came out of loss — I didn’t write them when I was happily dating the guy. But I have written about the love I have in my life also.

      I’d be very interested in hearing anyone else’s thoughts on this topic…


  3. 5 slacker-chick September 4, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Oh – no wonder I’ve always been bad at math – I don’t think about sex enough! Better get on that (so to speak). ;->

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