just read this on ABC Science Online
Getting married and having kids appears to dent creativity in men, a study suggests Men do their best work in their younger years, but getting married and having children stalls their creativity, according to a New Zealand study of successful scientists.
Dr Satoshi Kanazawa, a psychologist at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, reports in the August issue of the Journal of Research in Personality that a man’s age and unmarried status appear to drive success in his field.
His study was based on the analysis of a biographical database of 280 scientists considered ‘great’ by their colleagues, noting their age at the time when they did their greatest work. He found the data remarkably concurs with the observation made by Albert Einstein in 1942: “A person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of 30 will never do so.”
“Scientific productivity indeed fades with age,” Kanazawa said. “Two-thirds [of all scientists] will have made their most significant contributions before their mid-30s.”
But, regardless of age, the great minds who married virtually kissed goodbye to making any further glorious additions to their CV. Within five years of making their nuptial vows, nearly a quarter of married scientists had made their last significant contribution to knowledge.
“Scientists rather quickly desist [from their careers] after their marriage, while unmarried scientists continue to make great scientific contributions later in their lives,” said Kanazawa.
The energy of youth and the dampening effect of marriage, he added, are also remarkably similar among geniuses in music, painting and writing – and even among criminals.
Previous studies have documented that delinquents are overwhelmingly male, and usually start out on the road to crime in their teens. But those who marry will subsequently stop committing crime, whereas criminals at the same age who remain unmarried tend to continue their unlawful careers.
Kanazawa suggests “a single psychological mechanism” is responsible for this: the competitive edge among young men to fight for glory and gain the attention of women. That craving drives the all-important male hormone, testosterone.
After a man settles down, the testosterone level falls, as does his creative output, Kanazawa theorises.