Friday, June 10, 2022

Traditional creative occupations ('artists' & 'authors') were associated with elevated genetic risk for a range of psychiatric disorders, but similar, or greater elevations were seen for religious, helping and teaching professions

Is an elevated family-genetic risk for major psychiatric disorders specific to creative occupations? Kenneth S. Kendler et al. Psychological Medicine, Jun 8 2022.


Background: Despite a large descriptive literature linking creativity and risk for psychiatric illness, the magnitude and specificity of this relationship remain controversial.

Methods: We examined, in 1 137 354 native Swedes with one of 59 3-digit official and objective occupational codes in managerial and educated classes, their familial genetic risk score (FGRS) for ten major disorders, calculated from 1st through 5th degree relatives. Mean FGRS across disorders were calculated, in 3- and 4-digit occupational groups, and then controlled for those whose disorder onset preceded occupational choice. Using sequential analyses, p values were evaluated using Bonferroni correction.

Results: 3-digit professions considered to reflect creativity (e.g. ‘artists’ and ‘authors’) were among those with statistically significant elevations of FGRS. Among more specific 4-digit codes, visual artists, actors, and authors stood out with elevated genetic risks, highest for major depression (MD), anxiety disorders (AD) and OCD, more modest for bipolar disorders (BD) and schizophrenia and, for authors, for drug and alcohol use disorders. However, equal or greater elevations in FGRS across disorders were seen for religious (e.g. ministers), helping (e.g. psychologists, social workers), and teaching/academic occupations (e.g. professors). The potential pathway from FGRS → Disorder → Occupation accounts for a modest proportion of the signal, largely for MD and AD risk.

Conclusions: While traditional creative occupations were associated with elevated genetic risk for a range of psychiatric disorders, this association was not unique, as similar, or greater elevations were seen for religious, helping and teaching professions and was stronger for internalizing than psychotic disorders.

We found women’s ideas to be more original during ovulation compared to non-fertile phases of the ovulatory cycle

Enhanced Originality of Ideas in Women During Ovulation: A Within-Subject Design Study. Katarzyna Galasinska and Aleksandra Szymkow. Front. Psychol., June 9 2022 |

Abstract: The signaling theory suggests that creativity may have evolved as a signal for mates. Indeed, its aesthetic value might not have been necessary for survival, but it could have helped to attract a mate, fostering childbearing. If we consider creativity as such a signal, we should expect it will be enhanced in the context related to sexual selection. This hypothesis was tested mainly for men. However, both men and women display physical and mental traits that can attract a mate. Previous studies showed that women can be more creative during their peak fertility. We advanced these findings in the present study, applying reliable measures of menstrual cycle phases (examining saliva and urine samples) and the highly recommended within-subject design. We also introduced and tested possible mediators of the effect. We found women’s ideas to be more original during ovulation compared to non-fertile phases of the ovulatory cycle. The results are discussed in the context of signaling theory and alternative explanations are considered.


The aim of the research was to replicate the study investigating enhanced creative potential of fertile women, with the use of more reliable measures of the phases, and more appropriate within-subject design. We tested women during follicular, ovulation, and luteal phases, hypothesizing to find the effect during ovulation. Our hypotheses were based on the signaling theory (Miller, 2000a), which states that creativity may have evolved as a signal for mates. Although we cannot confirm its role as an indicator of fitness, our study suggests that it may be a mental ornament in women, related to the process of sexual selection (Darwin, 1871). Such an ornament should be manifested in the contexts associated with mating, like, for example, during a fertile phase of the ovulatory cycle.

In our study, originality of ideas was enhanced among fertile women. Originality is called an impression stimulator (Runco, 2007), as it affects attention. This sort of saliency starts at the sensory level (Gaspelin and Luck, 2018). As the most captivating feature of creativity, originality is also found to be the strongest predictor of it (Diedrich et al., 2015). There are also various ways to achieve original ideas. Flexibility of thinking can lead to such ideas through breaking patterns (Runco, 2007). In our study, flexibility was not differentiated in the comparison of three phases. But, it was higher during fertile phase, compared to less fertile phases combined. Different processes may also foster originality, for example persistence (Nijstad et al., 2010). Further studies are needed to test this idea. The fluency dimension was not differentiated either. The probability to generate an original idea increases with the number of ideas. However, the number of ideas is not essential, as a creative person may produce only one idea, but it may be an original one (Acar et al., 2017). Women had a similar quantity, but different quality of ideas. Furthermore, this quantity was quite high in each phase (about 11 ideas on average per phase), so we can assume that participants were generally motivated to produce ideas in the study. We cannot exclude the influence of the pandemic, as partial isolation might have affected participants’ willingness to engage in any kind of activities related to the outside world, creative activities in particular (Karwowski et al., 2021). This generic increased motivation may have also influenced diversity of their thoughts (flexibility), as this dimension was also not differentiated between phases. However, such motivation was not sufficient to produce similarly original ideas in each phase. Thus, it is difficult to interpret differences in originality between phases in the context of isolation, as it was a fixed condition across the phases. Female’s fertility and cycle length are considered to be affected due to illness (Carp-Veliscu et al., 2022) or vaccination (Nguyen et al., 2021). However, the study was conducted in the pre-vaccine (for COVID-19) period. None of the screened participants reported being sick. Morbidity rates during that time were relatively low when we compare them to the following years. However, we cannot exclude asymptomatic cases of COVID-19. We want to emphasize that we did not investigate creativity in participants whose ovulatory cycle was disturbed. The length of all screened cycles was differentiated within a range from 27 to 35 days, so we did not observe notable changes in the cycle length, in the cases when ovulation normally occurred.

Miller (2000a) outlines that creativity, as a subject of selection, concerns a domain associated with aesthetics and fine arts rather than technological innovation. Darwin (1871) pointed to a ‘sense of beauty,’ suggesting a mechanism for mere aesthetics with no direct benefits. Wallace, on the contrary, pointed to the good-gene, utilitarian model, suggesting signals of vigor and vitality behind the signals of beauty, which started a debate on how exactly the mechanisms of sexual and natural selection interact (Prum, 2012Hoquet and Levandowsky, 2015). Creative ideas are domain-general and defined as novel and useful (Runco, 2007). However, studies indicate that the effect of novelty is larger than usefulness and the latter is not necessarily predictive of creativity (Diedrich et al., 2015). It is also hard to miss the difference between technology and fine arts. The common variance of creativity and intelligence is found to be moderate, and researchers outline the orthogonality of these two constructs (Runco, 2007). Technological creativity would more likely fit the Wallacean utilitarian view of sexual selection processes (Feist, 2001). As divergent and original thinking is assumed to be independent of IQ (Wallach and Kogan, 1965), in our study we have additionally involved a creative convergent thinking test, reflecting the correlation of creativity and intelligence (Lee et al., 2014), and hence more relevant to survival problem solving. Eventually, we found no differences in these abilities between phases. It leads us to an interesting conclusion, corresponding to the problem of utility or/and beauty aspects of sexual selection. Namely, it is possible that convergent creativity could rather be attributed to natural selection processes, while divergent creativity to sexual selection understood after Darwin (1871) as a non-utilitarian, merely aesthetic mechanism of evolution. Thus, our study suggests that two different types of creativity might have evolved, each one focused on solving problems in different domains, namely survival and reproduction. If so, we should expect divergent creativity, but not the convergent one, to be enhanced in the mating context. This is to be verified in future studies.

The significant role of possible mediators would suggest that creativity may be a by-product of another selection. We tested arousal and positive mood, as they can facilitate creativity (Baas et al., 2008). Men could choose women who were more aroused, or more joyful, not directly creative. Creativity, as facilitated by elevated and activating moods, could have developed in parallel. However, although we found these variables increased during the fertile phase (vs infertile phases), we did not detect any mediating effects. Furthermore, both energetic and tense dimensions of mood were the highest during the luteal phase. However, being asked about general arousal, women reported it to be lower comparing to ovulation. We can suppose that during the luteal phase, women experienced mixed emotions. Progesterone may be associated with PMS syndrome (van Wingen et al., 2008), which we did not control unfortunately. But, as estrogen and progesterone act together during the luteal phase, we cannot exclude their interaction in affecting mood in the way we observed. It is important to note, that we awaited the LH peak during ovulation in our study, which usually co-occurs with a pending decrease of estrogen (Reed and Carr, 2018). Direct hormonal measures are needed to explain the mood effects we obtained.

Fertile phase arousal may manifest differently: as a general arousal on the physiological level, but also as mental, sexual, or motoric stimulation, or even as a motivational boost. It is possible, therefore, that the measures we administered might have not been precise enough and they should be more diversified in future studies. We did not control for premenstrual syndrome, which can also be a confounding variable. Finally, we did not control for typing speed (Forthmann et al., 2017), nor the time of day (Breslin, 2019).2

We did not find any differences in cognitive control between the phases; however, this result should be taken with caution. The conditions were not standardized, as the study procedure was conducted via the Internet. Participants’ PC monitors may differ in size and contrast. Additionally, we were not able to check if all participants did the training as we recommended.

To sum up, the present study replicated the effect of enhanced originality of ideas among women during ovulation (Galasinska and Szymkow, 2021). It suggests that originality in divergent creativity is a plausible candidate for mental ornamentation in women. Being boosted during the fertile phase of the cycle, originality presumably increases mate attraction, potentially leading to conception. Nevertheless, it may also promote intrasexual competition to discourage competitors. More contexts should be studied to confirm the hypothesis on the signaling role of creativity. We presented just one of them, showing that with no other incentives, women may manifest some signals of creativity, which may point to its evolutionary legacy.