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Marriage 'tames' geniuses, criminals - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Jul. 11th, 2003

10:17 am - Marriage 'tames' geniuses, criminals

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Courtesy of ch The bastard.

http://news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,6729280%5E13762,00.html

Marriage 'tames' geniuses, criminals
From correspondents in Paris
July 10, 2003

CREATIVE genius and crime express themselves early in men but both are turned off almost like a tap if a man gets married and has children, a study says.

Satoshi Kanazawa, a psychologist at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, compiled a database of the biographies of 280 great scientists, noting their age at the time when they made their greatest work.

The data remarkably concur with the brutal observation made by Albert Einstein, who wrote 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 says. "Two-thirds (of all scientists) will have made their most significant contributions before their mid-thirties."

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 history's Hall of Fame.

"Scientists rather quickly desist [from their careers] after their marriage, while unmarried scientists continue to make great scientific contributions later in their lives," says Kanazawa.

The energy of youth and the dampening effect of marriage, he adds, are also remarkably similar among geniuses in music, painting and writing, as well as in criminal activity.

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 well 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.

The study appears in in the August issue of the Journal of Research in Personality, published by the Elsevier group.

Agence France-Presse

Comments:

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From:misfitz
Date:July 11th, 2003 10:18 am (UTC)
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That just sucks. Completely. I've yet to make any real contribution to humanity, and I'm two years shy from hitting the start of the beginning of the end.

The question remains however - would I have been a better criminal or a better scientist? *wry grin*

Excellent article, although it scares the hell out of me.

I wanted to be Howard Roark. =)
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From:crasch
Date:July 11th, 2003 01:00 pm (UTC)
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It's already too late for me!
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From:gentlemaitresse
Date:July 11th, 2003 10:47 am (UTC)
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Just because there is a correlation between married scientists and them not having made a "significant contribution to History's hall of fame" does not necessarily mean that it is causative.

(I probably worded that very badly, but hopefully it's understandable. You'll just have to forgive my diminished mental capacity. I'm married. ha!)

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From:crasch
Date:July 11th, 2003 01:02 pm (UTC)
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True, correlation doesn't equal causation. I suspect that the true causative factors are a) the effects of aging b) the drain on time and energy that children bring.
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From:contrariandoer
Date:July 11th, 2003 11:13 am (UTC)
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This just adds another reason not to get
married. Life ends at marriage. Creativity
ends at marriage. Freedom ends at marriage.
What doesn't end in marriage?
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From:crasch
Date:July 11th, 2003 01:04 pm (UTC)
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Divorce?
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From:contrariandoer
Date:July 11th, 2003 04:51 pm (UTC)

Re:

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lol
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From:choiceful
Date:July 11th, 2003 11:31 am (UTC)
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I've read a lot of great books by married men recently, (Cialdini, Friedman, Feynman, etc) I wonder how the author is choosing his stats. A lot of the founding fathers were married, no? We know all of the presidents were, and albeit not the greatest people in the world, they're all pretty high achievers.
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From:auranja
Date:July 11th, 2003 01:01 pm (UTC)
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and what about women's creativity after marriage?
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From:crasch
Date:July 11th, 2003 01:10 pm (UTC)
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Yes, what about women's creativity after marriage? My guess is that their productivity declines even more, as they often take upon the lion's share of childcare duties.
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From:choiceful
Date:July 11th, 2003 01:15 pm (UTC)
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Well, that would be a redirect, not a decline ;)

As with the male case too, if it is actually the case. Both parties are devoting resources to a new endeavor, which they are not going to get prizes for :)
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From:crasch
Date:July 11th, 2003 07:56 pm (UTC)
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Well, the presumption is that we're talking about the quality and quantity of scientific output, rather than general productivity. Of course, you could experiment on your kids, I suppose. But where would you ever publish? Damn Geneva convention!
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From:crasch
Date:July 11th, 2003 01:05 pm (UTC)
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Yes, the article doesn't provide many important details. Personally, I don't think it's marriage per se, but rather a) aging b) children which often accompany marriage that cause the decline in productivity.
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From:choiceful
Date:July 11th, 2003 01:28 pm (UTC)
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Perhaps decline is specific types of productivity given that a good father will be allocating a fair amount of resources to his kids. The original material status of the father probably makes a fair difference too.

For example, a poor patent clerk is going to have to work pretty hard to pay for baby care and his living expenses, and I would imagine that many hard working geniuses are pretty poor, as they tend to be so into their work that they don't want to worry about money.

It would also depend a lot on whether or not he finds the "right" woman, I wouldn't be surprised if genius scientists often chose bad mates just for lack of paying attention/understanding in that area :)

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From:crasch
Date:July 11th, 2003 07:53 pm (UTC)

Re: control for age???

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Yes, you're quite right, there are a lot of potential confounds/alternative explainations that that weren't addressed in this article.

Some other interesting questions:

What happens to a scientist's productivity when she/he get's divorced? Do you get to be a genius again?

How does the productivity of scientists in childfree marriages differ from the productivity of married scientists with children?

How does age of marriage affect productivity?

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From:troyworks
Date:July 12th, 2003 01:12 am (UTC)
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Which would you rather have? Oodles of published journals over the years? Or oodles of hot monkey sex?
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From:crasch
Date:July 12th, 2003 10:27 pm (UTC)
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I'll take "oodles of hot monkey sex".
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From:merrill
Date:July 12th, 2003 07:52 pm (UTC)

Been there, read that.

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Hello, George Gilder.

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From:linley
Date:July 13th, 2003 08:39 pm (UTC)
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Who were these 208 great scientists? It's very difficult now to make a great scientific contribution before age 30 because you're likely in graduate school until age 26 or 27, during which time your advisor takes all the credit, and then have to fight for tenure for the next 6 years, which not only means publishing but also teaching and serving on committees, writing grants, etc. I would guess that most of these great scientists came from an era when it was possible to get a PhD at 22 and people were left alone to do their work.

Let me suggest the book "Creativity" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I'm reading it now. It's based on interviews with 91 incredibly creative people from a wide range of disciplines, most of them older than 60. Some interesting, perhaps relevant points
1) Many of the men interviewed talked about having a wife who acted as a gatekeeper, keeping away distractions so that they could get work done.
2) In the book's sample, productivity seemed to increase in later years.
3) Once someone becomes famous, they are increasingly wanted to give lectures, write books, and do other things that do not add to the scientific literature but do help increase general understanding of the contributions already made.
4) Women in the sample also felt that their husbands had freed them to concentrate on their work.
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From:crasch
Date:July 13th, 2003 09:05 pm (UTC)
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You make very good points. My own suspicion is that any decline in productivity with marriage (if it does, in fact, exist) will prove to be caused by the drain of time and energy caused by children, and aging, not by marriage itself. I've read other studies that suggest that married men live longer, and are much happier (on average) than unmarried men. (The same thing is true for women, though the effect is less pronounced.)

Although correlation != causation, I can think of several mechanisms by which marriage might confer health and productivity benefits, some of which you mention above--support during illness, or other times of stress, distraction shielding, support during early training, etc.

Thanks for the Csikszentmihalyi reference--I'll have to check the book out. I liked his earlier book, "Flow".

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From:linley
Date:July 13th, 2003 09:34 pm (UTC)
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Who were these 208 great scientists? It's very difficult now to make a great scientific contribution before age 30 because you're likely in graduate school until age 26 or 27, during which time your advisor takes all the credit, and then have to fight for tenure for the next 6 years, which not only means publishing but also teaching and serving on committees, writing grants, etc. I would guess that most of these great scientists came from an era when it was possible to get a PhD at 22 and people were left alone to do their work.

Let me suggest the book "Creativity" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I'm reading it now. It's based on interviews with 91 incredibly creative people from a wide range of disciplines, most of them older than 60. Some interesting, perhaps relevant points
1) Many of the men interviewed talked about having a wife who acted as a gatekeeper, keeping away distractions so that they could get work done.
2) In the book's sample, productivity seemed to increase in later years.
3) Once someone becomes famous, they are increasingly wanted to give lectures, write books, and do other things that do not add to the scientific literature but do help increase general understanding of the contributions already made.
4) Women in the sample also felt that their husbands had freed them to concentrate on their work.
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