Creative thinking is undoubtedly one of the qualities that distinguishes us as humans. It allows us to cope with challenges by looking for out-of-the-box solutions and it stimulates progress. Researchers from the Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities (Warsaw, Poland) conducted an interesting study on the influence of cycle phase on the level of creativity in women. They assumed that if creative thinking can be a signal of a woman’s condition for a man, then an increase in creativity should be observed during the fertile period compared to other phases of the cycle.
The Polish researchers assessed creative potential throughout the menstrual cycle. 1,045 Polish women between the ages of 18 and 35 who were not using hormonal contraception volunteered to participate in the study. The women declared that they were not pregnant, had not given birth in the past three months, and were not breastfeeding their child. We excluded 294 participants who did not confirm these conditions. The final sample consisted of 751 subjects.
The purpose of the study was to test women’s creative potential during the menstrual cycle. Specifically, it tested whether creative fluency, flexibility, and originality of thought increased with the likelihood of conceiving a child during the fertile period. The researchers built on Miller’s signaling theory that creativity evolved through sexual selection – as an indicator of a woman’s fitness and readiness for intercourse, used in courtship to attract a potential mate.
Many studies have shown that the ovulatory phase is the time when women actually signal their fertility status in an effort to attract male attention. Therefore, if creativity serves as such a sign, it should increase during periods of heightened sexual motivation, which occur during the peak of fertility.
The team adopted a definition of creative potential understood as fluid and flexible thinking leading to original ideas. This is one of the most widely used paradigms in creative psychology and reflects the creative potential that can be found in everyday life, and not necessarily among creative geniuses.
The researchers found that the likelihood of pregnancy positively correlated with originality of ideas and flexibility of thinking. That is, the higher the probability of conception, the more novel ideas were generated by the women. These ideas were also more diverse and more likely to change perspective, although they were not more numerous.
In the context of the study, team members also pointed to environmental factors related to female fertility that could also potentially affect cognitive ability. They attributed the greatest importance to an unhealthy, high-fat diet and obesity, as well as environmental pollution and exposure to toxic substances. All of these factors have been linked to fertility disorders, contributing to decreased egg quality, cycle irregularities and infertility. They can also impair our ability to think creatively, as an evolutionarily shaped mechanism in the context of reproduction.
Bottom line – the more fertile a woman is and the more likely she is to conceive, the more likely she is to be creative. Perhaps to “advertise” her fitness to her partners through a creative approach. You may find the conclusions useful – why not get down to creative challenges just before ovulation? Test it on yourself 😊