Does Being in Love Make You More Creative?

Illustration by Charles Maurice Davies courtesy The British Library.
Illustration by Charles Maurice Davies courtesy The British Library.

There’s nothing better than being lucky in love (other than pizza, obviously), and the happy endorphins that come with finding your soulmate also happen to come with an unexpected benefit. A new study suggests that being in love is a catalyst for creativity and idea-generating, which means every time you day-dream about your boyfriend or girlfriend, you’re likely to be that much more inspired.

Turns out the romantic feelings associated with cozying up to your significant other trigger “global processing,” which stimulates creative (as opposed to critical) thinking. University of Amsterdam psychologists found that thinking about romantic love makes us focus more on our future — as love usually comes hand-in-hand with a committed relationship, which in turn comes hand-in-hand with long-term plans. Meanwhile, those of us who while away our days thinking about sex might find ourselves being more analytic and less creative thanks to “local processing,” which focuses our minds in the present.

So, why does love-inspired forward thinking illicit creativity? Global processing helps diversify your ideas, which was demonstrated in two studies by The University of Amsterdam. Subjects in both studies were divided into groups — one that was asked to think about sex / shown sexy flash cards, and one that was asked to think about love / shown romantic flashcards. Participants were then asked to solve both creative and analytical problem sets. Team Love was better at solving the creative problems, while Team Sex was better analytically.

Obviously, there are exceptions to every rule, and many people who aren’t in romantic relationships are highly creative individuals. But it’s fascinating that love seems to stimulate a propensity toward creativity — no wonder our Valentine’s Day cookies turned out so well this year. Clearly our loving feelings for Russell Wilson worked their magic!

Source: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (via Scientific American)

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Mehera Bonner is a freelance lifestyle and entertainment writer. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and two children.