The Scientific American Mind blog Mind Matters has a fantastic article on the links between love and creativity and how just thinking of a romantic relationship can have an immediate effect on creative thinking.
The piece covers several studies which have shown that love or the concept of love promotes a ‘big picture’ thinking style while thinking of a quick shag seems to do the reverse:
The clever experiments demonstrated that love makes us think differently in that it triggers global processing, which in turn promotes creative thinking and interferes with analytic thinking. Thinking about sex, however, has the opposite effect: it triggers local processing, which in turn promotes analytic thinking and interferes with creativity.
Why does love make us think more globally? The researchers suggest that romantic love induces a long-term perspective, whereas sexual desire induces a short-term perspective. This is because love typically entails wishes and goals of prolonged attachment with a person, whereas sexual desire is typically focused on engaging in sexual activities in the “here and now”. Consistent with this idea, when the researchers asked people to imagine a romantic date or a casual sex encounter, they found that those who imagined dates imagined them as occurring farther into the future than those who imagined casual sex…
A global processing style promotes creative thinking because it helps raise remote and uncommon associations.
Clearly there is a happy medium to be found here, and I have to say, “would you like me to balance your processing styles?” has the makings of a great chat-up line.