Love and creativity

Nira Liberman and Oren Shapira explore the relationship between love and creativity. I’m generally excited to see the L word invoked in exploring how new ideas emerge, and the article is full of interesting stuff, raising lots of questions in my head as well as answers. Here’s a chunk of it, but the whole thing is worth a read.

Why does love make us think more globally? The researchers suggest that romantic love induces a long-term perspective, whereas sexual desire induces a short-term perspective. This is because love typically entails wishes and goals of prolonged attachment with a person, whereas sexual desire is typically focused on engaging in sexual activities in the “here and now”. Consistent with this idea, when the researchers asked people to imagine a romantic date or a casual sex encounter, they found that those who imagined dates imagined them as occurring farther into the future than those who imagined casual sex.

The distinction between love and lust is an interesting one – they are often conflated in the way we use the word love, especially in business where it seems to carry a lot of charge. I was intrigued by the researchers’ efforts to separate them. (Andrew Sullivan explores the whole sex/love thing very forthrightly ).

The article continues:

According to construal level theory (CLT), thinking about events that are farther into the future or past – or any kind psychological distancing (such as considering things or people that are physically farther away, or considering remote, unlikely alternatives to reality) triggers a more global processing style. In other words, psychological distancing makes us see the forest rather than the individual trees.

Ok, that part resonates with me and my experience that creativity often requires a reduction in time pressure, or goes with a different sense of time. It makes me think about the practice of holding space. I find the most satsifying creative moments in coaching relationships or meetings seem to arise when there’s least effort to make something happen, more sense of presence and some hard-to-articulate openness to the new. It feels like getting away from problem-solving.

Hat tip: The Frontal Cortex

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