Creativity occurs when we find a way to look at something familiar in a new perspective. As a writer, I’m always wondering how it happens. What sparks this ability to do something unique or look at something in a different way? When I find that I’m able to sit down and write paragraphs and paragraphs of words about whatever thoughts are sprinting throughout my mind, I start to wonder why it’s happening in the first place. What is the fuel for the fire that ensues every time I commit my fingers to a keyboard or a pen?
When you wonder about the foundation of why anything happens, you have to start by asking questions about evolution and its agenda. After all, humans were built by an evolutionary agenda that basically guides everything we do; at least that’s what science says. Even if you’re skeptical, why not read on to see if it makes any sense?
Creativity’s Roots and Pablo Picasso
About a year ago, I read a book called “Sex, Murder and The Meaning of Life” by Douglas T. Kenrick that’s theories are still plaguing my mind with wonder today. One of the theories played out in that wondrous book has to do with creativity and love.
As it turns out, famous painter Pablo Picasso is an excellent example of how love creates the potential to breed creativity. In case you didn’t know, Picasso produced 147,800 works of art throughout his entire life (Kenrick 154).
What’s more fascinating, though, is Douglas Kenrick’s conclusion regarding Picasso’s love life in connection to his art; during every creative period in which he made his best art, Picasso was accompanied by one of the great love affairs that seemed to guide his creative life (Kenrick 155). Evidently, Picasso’s most classic works were each created while he was enraptured by a particular love affair. Do you think love was the inspiration and motivator that set Pablo ahead of the rest?
While it may have aided in Pablo’s motivation, love is not a simple, sole igniter of creativity. Evolutionary psychologists believe our creative tendencies have developed out of basic evolutionary survival and/or reproductive needs. They believe creativity is important to humans because it stems from a vital drive to create new tools and mechanisms for reproduction and survival throughout the centuries (Kenrick 155).
In other words, without creativity, our ideas would never have changed or evolved. New products and developments such as houses, hunting mechanisms, and technology would have never been created for easier access to survival and reproduction without creativity. According to evolutionary psychology, our relentless desire to make survival and reproduction easier for us is actually what sparks creativity.
Similarly, Douglas T. Kenrick’s theory on the subject focuses more on the reproduction aspect of the theory. He believes that, when a man is passionate about a woman, that man’s creativity is motivated by an evolutionary attempt to impress the woman.
To prove his theory, Kenrick completed a controlled experiment using male and female college students. He had each student create unique stories outlining possible scenarios within an ambiguous photo. Before showing the photos, though, Kenrick would prime some of the (heterosexual) participants into a mating-state-of-mind. He showed them pictures of attractive (heterosexual) members of the opposite sex and had them pick one they would desire to be romantic with (Kenrick, 156).
Kenrick’s idea was to measure how creative each student was feeling after being romantically primed. Once each student’s story was recorded and analyzed, Kenrick showed them to other students who rated them on creativity, entertainment, humor, etc…
The conclusion of the experiment was that reproductive motivation had no effect on women’s creativity, but it did have an effect on the men. It turned out that men’s responses to what might be happening in the photos were significantly more creative when they had been primed into a mating-state-of-mind before their task (Kenrick, 156).
Skepticism and Results
I was skeptical when I first began reading about this theory. Also, it was mildly disheartening to think the greatest painter of all time may have gotten his motivation for creativity from somewhere other than his own mind.
But the facts and data don’t lie. Results show that men were able to be much more creative when primed for mating then when they weren’t. As Kenrick explains, “These studies established that temporary activation of a mating motive can have the same effect on humans as the mating season has on male peacocks; in both cases, mating opportunities inspire males to strut their stuff” (Kenrick, 157). All in all, males have a tendency to become more creative when they’re trying to impress.
Can You Tell Where Your Creativity Comes From?
Where does your creativity come from? If you’re a man, do you feel as though you are more creative when you’re thinking about someone you’re attracted to in a romantic way?
And women, what is your creative spark? Can you tell where it’s coming from when you get a burst of creative inspiration? Or, does it seem mysterious and difficult to track?
Women, Love and Creativity
Kenrick’s results outline only one circumstance in which women are creatively inspired as a result of romantic motivation. That circumstance is when we have thoughts about a long-term relationship: love.
According to Kenrick’s research, the only time women were able to be more creative after thinking about romance was “when they were thinking about a long-term relationship alongside (someone) whom they had been dating for a while and who had impressed their friends and family as a good catch. Then and only then would a woman show her more creative side” (Kenrick, 161).
Does this sound about right ladies? Think back, have you had any creative spurts after reaching a certain point in a relationship…maybe a point that solidified possibilities of your future together?
I’ve been writing my entire life. My entire life, I’ve been building up the courage to write things I would feel confident publicizing: things I wouldn’t regret and delete the next day. My boyfriend is the most creative person I’ve ever met. We started dating almost 3-years-ago now (I can’t believe it!).
I can honestly say it wasn’t until I met him that I finally felt I had gained the motivation and confidence to showcase my creative abilities. It took me a while to be able to showcase my true creative self to him, though. It might have even taken about as long as it took to solidify the future of our relationship, just the way Kenrick’s research shows.
Now, I’m not saying I rely on him for creativity; I don’t. I am saying it seems obvious to me that I have become more creatively motivated as a result of our relationship. If I didn’t have our relationship, I would have motivated myself another way. I would have had to get my creative fuel from some place other than love: like competitiveness, rage, boredom, enlightenment, or as a result of a physical or mental issue I needed to have resolved.
I believe emotional stimulation is the key to unlocking creativity. When we experience emotional stimulation, creativity swoops in to apply that sense of stimulation to a seemingly trivial idea, ultimately establishing a whole new perspective or idea: a work of art. A relationship, a new exhilarating experience or even a horribly frightening experience could spark your creative fuse.
When we have intense feelings for another, there’s no doubt we’ll be more likely go above and beyond to show our uniqueness (especially men). Original ideas come from all corners of the earth; it’s up to us to discover those corners and utilize them if we can.
Where does your creativity come from? Leave me a reply in the comments! 🙂