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Testosterone and creativity.

A 2003 paper in evolution psychology by Satoshi Kanazawa was mentioned today on Hacker News. The paper: Why Productivity Fades with Age: The Crime-Genius Connection proposed an interesting interpretation for a statistical phenomenon. Why male creativity decreased by age? Kanazawa compiled statistics from two groups, one is accomplished scientists, another is career criminals. He found that a correlation between age and their respective activities in samplers’ careers. Both groups’ output drops sharply after marriages. He suggests the possible explanation to this correlation is due to that testosterone level decreased when males enter steady relationships with females because there is no need to compete against other males in secure female reproduction to pass genes.

When I was young in school studying physics, a common advice from professors is to pick up hard theories and study them as early as possible, because from their own experiences, you will lose your brain after you are old and will not be able to propose new ideas in the field. One of the professor always wanted me to pick up quantum field theory, because in late 80’s and early 90’s, the field had developed the most complex and powerful mathematical and computational tools. So if I don’t study it as early as possible, I will never have a chance to understand it. I unfortunately did not take the advice and turned to hack programs. Well, I somewhat regret now it because in New York City, most quants in hedge fund industry deploy those tools to make gazillions of dollars. Who said nerds can’t get rich, as long as he studies the right trick.

So the theory basically excludes some other common explanation to decrease of creativity such as aging, frustrated marriage or devotion of energy to raising children. Instead, even a happy marriage and family life which leaves you freedom in pursuing career will doom your creativity! Because your mind just signal your body that you are already achieving your evolution destiny: passing the gene! Then your body switches off all drives to compete with other males and performing other tasks that is important to keep your offspring safe.

So I guess for any woman who tries hard to lock up an alpha male, this is a bad news, if it is irrefutable. Because if he is an alpha, he will start to lose interests in you and turn to next target, so he can keep his testosterone level high as he is single and remains his competitive advantage as an alpha. He may let you to take care of his children and give your material support to make sure the children are not harmed. Or he will just lose his alpha male status and become a family man, and he is no more that alpha male who emanates scent of a winner that makes you knee down in front of him and raise his children. But maybe you feel safe to stay with him, or either look out for another alpha male to keep the thrill, and the worst case is you let him to raise this stranger’s offspring(s).

So for all creative guys, we should all do what Pablo Picasso did, be a heart breaker, but had some kids and laughed before you die for all you have done!

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