Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 31 October 2011 | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00310

Status and mating success amongst visual artists

Helen Clegg1*, Daniel Nettle2 and Dorothy Miell3
  • 1 Division of Psychology, The University of Northampton, Northampton, UK
  • 2 Centre for Behaviour and Evolution, Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK
  • 3 College of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

Geoffrey Miller has hypothesized that producing artwork functions as a mating display. Here we investigate the relationship between mating success and artistic success in a sample of 236 visual artists. Initially, we derived a measure of artistic success that covered a broad range of artistic behaviors and beliefs. As predicted by Miller’s evolutionary theory, more successful male artists had more sexual partners than less successful artists but this did not hold for female artists. Also, male artists with greater artistic success had a mating strategy based on longer term relationships. Overall the results provide partial support for the sexual selection hypothesis for the function of visual art.

Keywords: artist, mating success, status, evolutionary psychology, creativity

Citation: Clegg H, Nettle D and Miell D (2011) Status and mating success amongst visual artists. Front. Psychology 2:310. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00310

Received: 19 July 2011; Paper pending published: 26 July 2011;
Accepted: 14 October 2011; Published online: 31 October 2011.

Edited by:

Simine Vazire, Washington University in St. Louis, USA

Reviewed by:

Geoffrey Miller, University of New Mexico, USA
Elisabeth Oberzaucher, University of Vienna, Austria

Copyright: © 2011 Clegg, Nettle and Miell. This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with.

*Correspondence: Helen Clegg, Division of Psychology, The University of Northampton, Park Campus, Boughton Green Road, Northampton NN2 7AL, UK. e-mail: helen.clegg@northampton.ac.uk

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