Wedded bliss bad news for creativity

11.07.2003

Health warning for men: marriage may damage your creativity.

Psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa, a post-doctoral fellow at Canterbury University, has found that men’s creativity is stifled when they marry and have children.

Dr Kanazawa researched the ages at which 280 famous scientists did their most notable work. He found they were highly competitive in early adulthood but tended to “turn off” when they acquired wives and children.

Having previously found that criminals generally ceased offending at the same time, Dr Kanazawa was “struck by the similarity”.

Next he studied musicians, painters and authors, and found the pattern repeated.

His work, which will be published in the Journal of Research in Personality, shows that men evolved to seek successful careers as a way of attracting wives. Once the attraction is accomplished, the drive to succeed departs.

“Men just do not feel like producing any more.”

It was not that men were dragged down by marriage or families, but the lack of creativity came from within themselves, he said.

Dr Kanazawa believes it is associated with declining levels of testosterone, linked to the consummation of their search for a mate.

His research did not explain genius. He could not say why Paul McCartney was the greatest rock’n’roll composer of the past 50 years – and Ringo Starr was not.

But he could say why McCartney wrote all his best stuff years ago.

It was more than a matter of age alone, he said. The few men who remained unmarried still produced symphonies later in life.

Dr Kanazawa’s brow darkened when asked if he was proof of his own theory.

At 40 and married, though with no children, he hoped he had not done his best work already.

But he did this research before he was married. So, now, maybe …

That will not be Canterbury’s problem. Dr Kanazawa leaves this month to take up a lectureship at the London School of Economics.

– NZPA

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