Why are we creative? Other animals don’t create much and yet they’re often very successful. The horseshoe crab, for instance, has been around for 450 million years. That’s a pretty good success story – I hope we humans can stick around that long. Yet nobody accuses horseshoe crabs of being creative.
Some researchers argue that creativity derives from competitive, evolutionary pressures. If we can develop creative solutions to problems, we can out-compete other animals. We might even out-compete other humans, like the Neanderthals.
Other researchers suggest that creativity has more to do with mate selection. The basic argument: creativity is sexy. Geoffrey Miller, for instance, suggests that creativity is not so very different from a peacock’s tail. It’s an advertisement to lure a mate.
If that’s true, it raises a different question: what kinds of creativity are the sexiest? Fortunately, Scott Barry Kaufmann, Gregory Feist, and their colleagues looked into that very question in a recent article (“Who Finds Bill Gates Sexy?”) in the Journal of Creative Behavior. (You can find less technical descriptions of the study here and here).
Feist had previously proposed that there are three forms of creativity and that they might vary in their degree of sexiness. In the current paper, Kauffman and Feist and their colleagues, tested this hypothesis on 119 men and 696 women using a variety of cognitive and personality tests. Feist’s three general forms of creativity are:
Which of the three do you find sexiest? In the study, both men and women found “… ornamental/aesthetic forms of creativity … more sexually attractive than applied/technological forms of creativity.”
Further, the sexiest creative behaviors included playing sports, playing in a band, making a clever remark, writing music, dressing in a unique style, and writing poetry. The least sexy creative behaviors included interior design, writing a computer program, creating a website, growing and gardening, creating scientific experiments, and creating ad campaigns.
In an earlier post, we learned that men who do more chores around the house have less sex than men who do fewer chores. With the new research, we now have a more complete picture of what’s sexy and what’s not. What to do? I don’t know about you but I’m going to sell the vacuum cleaner and start taking guitar lessons.