Research: Porn Improves Test Scores. Geeks Delight!

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Our brains are odd little creatures…

If I told you, for example that thinking about love makes you dumb, but creative, while thinking about sex makes you smart, but small-minded, you’d probably think I’d lost one too many marbles.

But, a recent study led by psychologist Jens Forster at the University of Amsterdam and reported in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, shows exactly that.

In that study, a group of 60 students were asked to imagine one of two scenarios: a loving walk with a partner, or casual, loveless sex.

They were then asked to solve 4 logic problems from the GRE exam and 3 problems that required bigger picture creative thinking. A second variation primed the students’ brains by flashing words related to either love or sex before their eyes before asking them to complete the questions.

The outcome…

Under both variations, love primed creative output, but tanked analytical problem-solving. While sex tanked creative output, but primed more linear problem-solving. Researchers theorized that the short, discrete goal-oriented focus of casual sex primed the students’ brains to operate on a more local, linear level when it came to the task immediately following the “prime.” And, the opposite held true when primed with love.

The takeaway…

One – Intelligence is suggestible. As much as we like to think of ourselves as beings with fairly concrete, consistent levels of ability and intelligence, truth is, at any given moment our expression of intelligence, analytic ability and creativity change based not only on circumstance, but on what we were thinking about immediately before. Our cognitive and creative abilities can be temporarily altered to suit the moment.

Two – Our brains are not just primal, but prime-able. We can prime our analytical or creative intelligence in anticipation of a particular bout we know will require us to draw more intensely upon one or the other by simply spending a few moments focused on love or sex.

Need to paint, write or compose?

Get your mind into the clouds.

Need to ace your SAT, GRE, licensing exam or other standardized test?

The gutter will do just fine.

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9 responses

9 responses to “Research: Porn Improves Test Scores. Geeks Delight!”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jonathan Fields, remarkablogger, Grant Griffiths, Alessio La Ruffa, Jake LaCaze and others. Jake LaCaze said: Very interesting – RT @jonathanfields: Research Reveals Porn Improves Test Scores. Geeks Delight! – http://bit.ly/cNILcQ […]

  2. HA! This is great. But one thing confuses me some. Why do some teen-aged boy have a tendency to not do so well through high-school. This study should cause their test scores to be through the roof! 😉

    Jonathan – you always provide some of the most interesting bits of information that can be used as awesome conversation starters!

  3. @ Heather, maybe it’s because high school standards have been calibrated to the gutter minds of teenagers. I wonder how test scores compare at different kinds of schools (co-ed vs. single sex, dress code vs. no dress code, etc).

    @ Jonathan, interesting study, and I definitely believe that our brain can be influenced by factors like this. (I’m reminded of a study that found placing Monopoly money in people’s peripheral vision made them less likely to help others.) Should be fun giving it a try. 🙂

  4. Anne Galivan says:

    Have to say I am disappointed with the title and some of the conclusions you come to in light of the fact that pornography:

    1) Objectifies women; and
    2) Destroys marriages and families. (You can go here for detailed research which supports this: http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF09K57.pdf)

    I would add further that your summation of this study says that the study focused on people IMAGINING a certain scenario NOT actually engaging in that scenario or perusing porn.

    What I would take away from this study is that our IMAGINATION is a powerful thing and can be used to our own purposes. This is a very different thing than encouraging people to engage in casual sex (with all the ramifications for STD’s, emotional issues and other problems that are rife in that lifestyle) or to use pornography (the casualties of which I have already noted.)

  5. caitlyn says:

    I would think the RAP music blaring into the junior high school students’ ears from their ipods, the tops cut so low i daren’t look to see how far from the dress code they are, and the general 15-ness of them all would make the students I teach the best test-takers in all the land.

    At this point, I’m thinking we better not enforce the dress code, ’cause we’ll be running a lot of remedial classes!

  6. […] Jonathan Fields is the rockstar author of Career Renegade and continues to dispense his wisdom over on his blog.  I particular enjoy Jonathan’s interviews of other creative rockstar types (a lot which are in video), as well as his ability to take quirky angles on common topics. (For example, he recently shared research that watching porn positively affects test scores!) […]

  7. […] Jonathan Fields is the rockstar author of Career Renegade and continues to dispense his wisdom over on his blog.  I particular enjoy Jonathan’s interviews of other creative rockstar types (a lot which are in video), as well as his ability to take quirky angles on common topics. (For example, he recently shared research that watching porn positively affects test scores!) […]

  8. […] Jonathan Fields is the rockstar author of Career Renegade and continues to dispense his wisdom over on his blog.  I particular enjoy Jonathan’s interviews of other creative rockstar types (a lot which are in video), as well as his ability to take quirky angles on common topics. (For example, he recently shared research that watching porn positively affects test scores!) […]

  9. One word: Oxytocin!