Talk about creativity. Professional artists and poets hook up with two or three times as many sex partners as other people, new research indicates.
A study of 425 British men and women found the creative types averaged between four and ten partners, while the less creative folks had typically had three.
The more creative the study participants, the more partners they'd had.
Previous studies have hinted at all this, and anyone mingling seriously with artists might have suspected as much. But this is the first study to provide firm evidence, the researchers say.
What's behind the results? It could be that "very creative types lead a bohemian lifestyle and tend to act on more sexual impulses and opportunities, often purely for experience's sake, than the average person would," said study leader Daniel Nettle, a psychologist at Newcastle University.
"Moreover, it's common to find that this sexual behavior is tolerated in creative people," Nettle notes. "Partners, even long-term ones, are less likely to expect loyalty and fidelity from them."
There may be an evolutionary reason, however.
The study also included some known schizophrenics. And Nettle's personality surveys revealed that the artists and poets shared certain traits with schizophrenics. Again, perhaps no big surprise. But these traits are linked with increased sexual activity, Nettle and his colleagues say (though full-blown schizophrenic patients tend to withdraw from society and have less active sex lives).
Insofar as evolution is concerned, maybe teetering on the brink is a good thing, the researchers speculate.
"These personality traits can manifest themselves in negative ways, in that a person with them is likely to be prone to the shadows of full-blown mental illness such as depression and suicidal thoughts," Nettle said. "This research shows there are positive reasons, such as their role in mate attraction and species survival, for why these characteristics are still around."
The results are detailed today in the academic journal, The Proceedings of the Royal Society (B).
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Robert is an independent health and science journalist and writer based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is a former editor-in-chief of Live Science with over 20 years of experience as a reporter and editor. He has worked on websites such as Space.com and Tom's Guide, and is a contributor on Medium, covering how we age and how to optimize the mind and body through time. He has a journalism degree from Humboldt State University in California.