A new study by psychologists Jens Förster, Kai Epstude, and Amina Özelsel at the University of Amsterdam says romantic love—or even thinking about romantic love—opens the curtains of the mind and unleashes creative thinking.
At first blush, this seems hard to believe. We actually had to sit and think about it—comb through our romantic libraries, if you will. Embarrassing teenage poetry aside, whenever we've found ourselves in the thick of "deep like" or "love" we've morphed more into flustered absent-minded (maybe jealous?) professors than creative gurus. We forget to turn off the coffee pot, our keys are misplaced, we miss our stop on the subway. We feel gypped.
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But we shouldn't, as this absent-mindedness may actually be part of the love puzzle, too. The researchers say romantic love forces the brain to think globally as opposed to locally. Global processing, they say, is in stark contrast to point A to point B analytic thinking. It's focused on the future, not the here and now, which means there's a healthy dose of fantasy involved. The Truth About Acting Out Your Fantasies
While this whimsical way of thinking may not be conducive to thumbing through difficult text, it helps us form outside-the-box solutions, and yes, maybe even art.
The researchers compared how a group of people faired on a series of analytic and creative insight problems after prompted to think about either romantic love, casual sex or solitude. They found that the ones thinking about true love did the best creatively, and surprisingly the group with hot sex on their minds were the most analytical! Who would've thought?
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They theorize that a purely carnal engagement snaps the brain into local mode; it gets you thinking about the immediate and short-term, not the overall distant and hypothetical.
Interesting. We aren't entirely sure flipping through erotic images would've have helped us score higher on our SAT's, but we'll be sure to pepper the brain with romance (and keep our keys nearby) next time we're in need of artistic inspiration. Fun And Free: Art Projects