Your knee-jerk reaction might be “a lot,” but when it comes to brass tacks you might find creativity making its way further and further down the list.
Last month, the University of Swansea in the U.K. released a study involving the dating preferences of 2,700 college students from five countries: two traditionally considered Eastern (Malaysia and Singapore) and three traditionally considered Western (the U.K., Norway, and Australia).
Researchers had participants narrow down the characteristics that are more important to them in a romantic partner. Their choices (or, what they could spend “mate dollars” on) were: physical attractiveness, good financial prospects, kindness, humor, chastity, religiosity, the desire for children, and creativity.
As you can imagine, it gets a little more difficult when you have to rank the characteristics; more difficult still when you’re given a finite resource to “spend” on each trait.
Across all boards, kindness reigned supreme. After kindness, the majority of men ranked physical attractiveness as number one and most women ranked good financial prospects as their top favored characteristic.
Of course, several characteristics varied by culture. For example, the Western students listed humor and the desire to have children as a priority but the Eastern students didn’t; Eastern participants ranked religiosity as a priority whereas most Western participants ignored it and used their mate dollars elsewhere.
Finally, the trait that consistently ranked at the bottom of the barrel? Creativity.
Andrew G. Thomas, a senior lecturer in Psychology at Swansea, has some thoughts:
It always surprises me with this task that creativity takes a back seat to most other traits, and this pattern was repeated in our large cross-cultural comparison. Highly successful creative individuals, such as musicians and artists, are often highly desirable mates, but maybe what’s actually being valued here is not creativity as such but the social status that accompanies it. It makes me wonder what groupies really like about the bands they follow.
So, could it be that many people aren’t actually attracted to creativity at all (even if they think they are) but what creativity can bring? Like fame and fortune? Or, is it just that while creativity is a nice characteristic, creativity alone isn’t as helpful at raising children as “good financial prospects” and creativity doesn’t make you feel as valued and loved as “kindness.”
I’d put money on it varying from person to person, but let’s hear what you think!