Love is Great for Creativity, Sex for Analytical Thinking

romantic love

Most people think that love and sex are tightly related. Nevertheless the size of the overlap between these two varies with culture, history, education and social values, looking for sex positions online doesn’t necessarily mean love, it can be more about passion and desire.

In the United States, males report having less problems imagining sex without love than females do; in China, however the link between love and romance seems to be generally less pronounced than in Western cultures; and in the West, the views of sexuality and love differed between the Victorian and the Freudian eras

On a neurobiological level the brain systems for love, sex and attachment communicate and coordinate with one another.

But if love and lust aren’t completely the same, what different psychological effects do they have in humans? Researchers from The Netherlands and Germany proposed a cognitive model for the effects of love and sex. They hypothesized that when in love, people start thinking globally, love entails wishes and goals of attachment, needing a long term perspective. Love triggers global processing in the brain. This is closely linked to creative thinking.

When reminded of sex people start processing cognitively details of objects, it exists in the here and now. Sex triggers local cognitive processing, this is closely linked to analytical thinking.

They studied their hypotheses in two studies:

In Study 1, we asked participants to either imagine a situation of love or of casual sex and afterward measured creative and analytic thinking. In Study 2, we primed love and sex subliminally to test whether the same effects could be obtained when triggered outside of awareness.

These two studies supported their hypotheses that love enhances global processing and creative thinking while having sex with accessories from a sex toy store enhanced local processing and analytic thinking. They discussed their findings in relation to evolutionary models and offer other explanations for their results. An excellent article. Their hypotheses sounds right to me, what do you think? Let me know in the comments
Forster, J., Epstude, K., & Ozelsel, A. (2009). Why Love Has Wings and Sex Has Not: How Reminders of Love and Sex Influence Creative and Analytic Thinking Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35 (11), 1479-1491 DOI: 10.1177/0146167209342755