Rule Five Sapiosexual Friday

Thanks to Darkness Over the Land for the pingback!

Moving on:  Yes, apparently this is a thing; for some folks, at least, brains are an essential part of what makes another person sexually interesting.  (I offer no speculation on the intelligence of today’s Rule Five girl; that’s not why she’s here.)  Excerpt:

To get to the bottom of the question, Gilles Gignac, a psychology researcher at the University of Western Australia conducted a survey of both undergraduate students in Australia and participants on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. He and his co-authors had them complete a questionnaire that asked whether they found high levels of intelligence attractive, in addition to more general questions about intelligence. Examples included “Listening to someone speak very intelligently arouses me sexually,” and “very high level of intelligence alone is enough for me to be attracted to someone sexually.”

Gignac also asked them directly whether they would find people with varying levels of intelligence attractive, ranging from well below the 50th percentile to the very top end of the intelligence spectrum. His study was published in the journal Intelligence, natch.

Tallying the data revealed that for most people, intelligence isn’t a significant factor in deciding whether someone’s hot or not. While it wasn’t totally insignificant, it’s likely that other characteristics override brains for most people. For a select few, however, it appears that a prodigious intellect did indeed serve to stir desire. Eight percent of the participants scored a 4 out of 5 on Gignac’s test, meaning they responded strongly in the positive to most questions that asked whether they were turned on by intelligence. He interprets this as evidence of sapiosexuality among a small subset of people.

Interestingly, it seems there’s a limit to how much intelligence people can handle. When asked to rate what level of intelligence they found attractive, most people stopped at an IQ of 120, which corresponds roughly to the 90th percentile of intelligence. Gignac, isn’t sure about why this is so, though he suggests that portrayals of extremely intelligent people as socially awkward, as well fears of compatibility problems, could come into play.

In addition, the participant’s own level of intelligence, as measured by a few common cognitive tests, didn’t seem to make them more attracted to smart people. In other words, sapiosexuality doesn’t seem to be relegated solely to the brilliant.

I’m a little skeptical about the whole thing.

I do find intelligence appealing.  Mrs. Animal is extremely intelligent; for twenty-five years now she has run the business side of all our small business ventures and managed her own small publishing company, all while raising four daughters.  She speaks several languages, and repeatedly demonstrates unfailing aptitude for almost any new project she takes on.  Yes, she’s a smart cookie.  I think I’m a pretty smart cookie too, and that’s one of the reasons our marriage has been so successful.

But where I think this article misses the mark is in shallowly confining the study to sexuality.  Compatibility in a relationship involves a lot more, including – perhaps too obviously – a certain amount of intellectual parity.  I could refer you to an acquaintance of mine, a man of above-average intelligence who for reasons unknown married a woman who I must in all candor describe as a drooling imbecile.  Not surprisingly, he’s unhappy in the relationship.

Sexual compatibility is important in a relationship, sure.  But more fundamentally, people have to be able to simply talk to each other.  That’s what this study missed.