Tuesday, December 13, 2005

multiple partners and multiple personalities

Creative people have more sexual partners than the rest of us, say a pair of psychologists. They surveyed a hundred or so artists and poets, and claim that traits similar to those of schizophrenics explain these people's success with members of the opposite sex.

Artists and schizophrenics are known to share characteristics, and they pose a certain kind of puzzle to evolutionary psychologists. Neither artistic talent nor schizophrenia offers an obvious reproductive benefit, nor are they expected to, but does their existence suggest they might have one?

British researchers Daniel Nettle, of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, and Helen Keenoo, at the Open University in Milton Keynes, decided to investigate by surveying 425 professional visual artists and poets, amateurs and regular people. They found that active artists had had an average of five or six sexual partners; those without artistic ambitions had had nearer four.

"I think it's to do with attention," says Nettle of artists' sexual success. "Art forms are things that hold people's attention, and that can be a powerful aphrodisiac."