According to the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, sexual fantasizing improves analytical skills. But daydreaming about love impacts your creativity.
This sounds downright Jill Bolte Taylor-esque. Left hemisphere versus right.
Melinda Wenner of Scientific American goes into more depth.
Previous research suggests that our problem-solving abilities change depending on our states of mind and that love—a broad, long-term emotion—triggers global brain processing, a state in which we see the big picture, make broad associations and connect disparate ideas. Sex, on the other hand—more specific and here and now—initiates more local processing, in which the brain zooms in and focuses on details. Researchers…wondered whether thinking about love might actually help people perform better on creative tasks, whereas imagining sex might prime people to do better on tasks requiring analytical thinking.
So researchers staged it this way: 30 participants were asked to imagine a “long, loving walk with their partners.” Another 30 were asked to imagine sex with someone they did not love. Then cognitive tests were administered.
As predicted, the love-primed ones performed much better on creative tasks and scored worse on analytical questions, whereas the reverse was true of those who thought about sex. The researchers also subliminally primed a separate group of subjects to think about love or sex and got similar results.
“I was surprised about the strength of the effects,” says author Jens Förster, a social psychologist at the University of Amsterdam. The researchers wonder whether the “big picture” perspective that lovebirds share strengthens their relationship, too, by helping couples overlook personal weaknesses and daily hassles.
So is this distinction prescriptive? In other words, when my partner Dave waxes particularly analytical, perhaps the proper response should be to give him that “you’ve been fantasizing again, haven’t you?” look…
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