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July 13, 2012 / JayMan

IQ and Kink?

Anecdotally, I have noticed that those who have sexual fetishes (or paraphilias as they are known technically) as a group have a higher average IQ than those who don’t. I don’t know of any data that verifies this (I haven’t seen any studies linking sexual fetishes to IQ), but I suppose that runs into the issue of how you define a fetish.

In any case, if this is a real phenomenon, then why would this be so? A possible explanation recently came to me.

Higher IQ individuals—or perhaps more specifically, higher average IQ groups—tend to feature much more sexual restraint compared to lower average IQ groups, being more K-selected and often having evolved under centuries or millennia of civilization. In such situations, sexual arousal had to be limited. (Indeed, Jason Malloy and Half Sigma have discovered that higher IQ individuals tend to have lower sex drives.) Sexual expression was confined only to specific circumstances—typically with one’s “approved” partner (usually, though not always, one’s spouse).  This had to be so, because these people typically lived in higher population densities and in much more socially stratified societies than did pre-farming or pre-state peoples. As such, they were constantly encountering people who were potential mates (that is, non-relatives, defined here as those outside the immediate family, so that cousins would be included as potential mates in consanguineous societies) but were not necessarily available as such. As well, behavior had to be much more regulated thanks to much more complex social rules. Strong states probably punished excessive sexuality (primary rape) as much as they did violence. Hence, people with overly sensitive sexual triggers were culled from the gene pool.

But, of course, people still needed to breed. In the correct circumstances, intense sexuality would be beneficial. What if an individual developed sexual arousal to particular objects or situations (a “kink”)? Being in the presence of the object of one’s of desire, be it rope, blindfolds, or geisha make-up—especially when this object or situation was offered by a willing partner—meant that it was “safe” to become aroused. It was OK to unleash one’s sexuality, where in other social situations one had to keep such urges tightly controlled. Higher IQ individuals would be especially sensitive to such forces, as they are typically descended from individuals who had evolved considerable behavioral restraint. Special triggers may have had to have been necessary to get many of these individuals to disarm this restraint and express their sexuality (and hence, reproduce).

This may be why peoples who have been long-time residents of cold and highly orderly societies—such as Germans or Japanese—have a reputation for sexual eccentricity—and a reputation for fairly strict compartmentalization of sexuality.

(Of course, many of the implements involved in many kinks, such as manufactured objects, can only be found in civilized societies.  Hence, such desires could only appear in civilized societies—for the most part.)

Two of the more common fetishes, it appears, are male dominance and female submissiveness.  This seems fairly straightforward to understand, as these are just exaggerations of classic gender roles.  These likely represents idealized forms of masculinity and femininity, and this likely explains their sexual allure.

I’ve seen a few commentators in the HBD-sphere critical of sexual activities other than straight intercourse, deeming them “aberrations” because they don’t lead to reproduction.  But these views miss the larger function of sex. In addition to its primary function (reproduction), sex serves the function of emotional bonding between its participants. This is the whole reason humans lack an estrus cycle to which sex is mostly confined, as it is for most animals. For a species where strong bonds between male and female are necessary (thanks to human paternal investment), a whole host of non-reproductive but mutually pleasurable sexual activities is to be expected (look at bonobos if you don’t believe me).

This hypothesis, incidentally, is in line with Satoshi Kanazawa’s Savannah Hypothesis.  This states that traits related to things that are evolutionarily novel will be more common among more intelligent individuals.  For example, intelligent people are more likely to like classical music (or more accurately, instrumental music, as I prefer) because it is devoid of vocals, and the ancestral environment didn’t have musical instruments (perhaps, save drums)—only singing voices.  Just the same, more intelligent people are more likely to enjoy kinky sex because the ancestral environmental didn’t have latex, chains, handcuffs, or candle wax (though it did have ropes and whips, and they were probably used for a sexual purpose then, too ;) ).

This idea is admittedly conjectural. But, I’m putting the idea out there for others to consider. Only time and data will tell if I’m on to something.

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22 Comments

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  1. asdf / Jul 16 2012 7:53 AM

    In my own life there is a definate correlation between high IQ and kink. Also a correlation between kink and being fucking crazy.

  2. Seo Sanghyeon / Jul 17 2012 11:41 AM

    I think I have a simpler explanation. Five Factor Model is the standard personality trait model, and IQ correlates with Openness. Openness, almost by definition, should correlate with sexual kinks. So it is not that surprising. (Actually, I won’t be surprised if there already are data supporting this if you search for IQ/Openness correlation literature.)

    • JayMan / Jul 17 2012 3:30 PM

      Yup, I’ve considered that, and I’m not so sure that that is really a different explanation. For example, why is openness correlated with IQ? If anything, what you’ve noted is more a reductive generalization like the savanna hypothesis itself. Whereas my explanation perhaps explains the mechanism in more detail.

  3. Anthony / Jul 18 2012 4:01 PM

    I suspect that the drives which are expressed as “kink” in higher-IQ individuals are more likely expressed as “domestic violence” in lower-IQ individuals. A smart person with sadistic desires will find a willing masochist, control their sadism, and have a “safe, sane, consensual” kinky relationship. A dumb person will beat up their significant other until the cops notice. And a dumb masochist, like Rihanna, will want to go back to the guy who beats her up.

    Sometimes, even smart people get into the low-IQ dynamic. Look up what’s been going on with San Francisco’s sheriff, Ross Mirkarimi. He’s presumably smart (I think he has a law degree). He beats his wife, and she’s normally ok with it, unless it goes too far. If they’d been part of the local kink community, they would have worked it out in a way that wouldn’t have him about to lose his job before he’s even started it.

    • JayMan / Jul 18 2012 4:29 PM

      That is an interesting way of looking at it, especially with battered women being masochists to a degree.

    • SFG / Feb 12 2013 11:37 PM

      That’s what I’ve found (not that anyone will ever read this comment). Crazy dumb people get into domestic violence, either as victims or perpetrators. Crazy smart people find willing victims or perpetrators and negotiate it all out so everyone’s happy and nobody goes to jail.

      Sane dumb and smart people do neither.

    • JayMan / Feb 12 2013 11:46 PM

      I see all comments. Interesting.

  4. The Initiate / Jul 22 2012 9:05 AM

    Interesting post! Could we not look at IQ as how much information one can store and then eventually access?

    It’s all about information, of course, so this all makes sense.

    I only ponder.. what if this is just the product of over stimulating the brain with information, as it creates a pattern which we then must fulfill to get the same effect again.

    I don’t know whether we should see all of this as negative or positive. One thing that comes to mind is the connection to feeling versus thinking. In a sense, we may just be losing our “feeling” while progressing into a more materialistic life, where information is king. We are ever changing. Is this a type of evolution occurring here? I think so, but I may have some fear about where we’re going with this direction.

  5. live4life201 / Jul 22 2012 11:33 AM

    Reblogged this on live4life201.

  6. mindofmascarita / Jul 22 2012 9:37 PM

    This is interesting!

  7. Greying Wanderer / Jul 24 2012 3:47 AM

    “Also a correlation between kink and being fucking crazy.”

    hehe, very true.

  8. meezletoe / Jul 27 2012 2:18 AM

    Hmmm, I haven’t heard of any correlation between high IQ and sexual fetishes (especially growing up watching Jerry Springer…), but your thinking of compartmentalized sexuality fetish/kinks and highly orderly societies (that value/demand restraint) being linked makes sense to me…

  9. mindofmascarita / Aug 2 2012 12:13 AM

    Reblogged this on Inside the Mind of Mascarita and commented: ;)

  10. Anonymous / Feb 24 2013 5:07 PM

    Anthony is basically right. There is a huge overlap overlap between the people who would go to comic-con and the kinky subculture. That subculture has high IQ’s because it’s a high IQ (nerdy) version of the sexual preference which is expressed differently in other groups.

    Wife beating is a bad example though. Non-geeky masochists are much more likely to just get off on being used (especially giving oral without it being reciprocated) or just from their partner being aggressive in bed, or controlling in the relationship. More real world and social compared to sex-toy and porn inspired.

    I can’t figure the evolution of male masochism however. It might be related to religious masochism/asceticism though.

  11. Bottledwater / Jan 19 2014 7:15 PM

    Pedophiles have low IQs. I suspect it would be the same for other perversions too. They all likely reflect developmental brain damage. Now maybe the subset who are open about it might have high IQ’s because that requires some fortitude but that’s a filtering effect.

    • JayMan / Jan 20 2014 9:19 PM

      @Bottledwater:

      Pedophiles have low IQs

      Has this actually been studied?

      . I suspect it would be the same for other perversions too.

      Apparently not.

      They all likely reflect developmental brain damage.

      Doubtful.

    • Bottledwater / Jan 21 2014 1:10 PM

      JayMan, here’s a study showing pedophilia and same sex preferences are negatively correlated with IQ.

      http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=2004-10255-001

      My guess is that all paraphilias (whether criminal or just kinky) reflect early insults to the brain.

    • JayMan / Jan 22 2014 1:33 PM

      @Bottledwater:

      Sample sizes were small. As well, is this representative of all pedophiles, or just the sample that happen to get a hold of?

      I seriously doubt pedophilia is related to sexual fetishes.

    • Bottledwater / Jan 22 2014 11:41 PM

      Pedophilia is a type of paraphilia thus it seems reasonable to lump it in with other sexual fetishes. The study is not representative of all pedophiles, but the key point is that even among convicted criminals and sex offenders, pedophilia and homosexuality were negatively correlated with IQ and memory using physical measures of sexual arousal.

    • JayMan / Jan 22 2014 11:57 PM

      @Bottledwater:

      Even something like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia aren’t each single disorders, but a collection of disorders with somewhat similar traits. For that reason, there is limited justification for lumping pedophilia as a single disorder, much less lumping it with sexual fetishes.

      Further, was the study controlled for race?

      As well, Satoshi Kanazawa found the IQ is uncorrelated with male homosexuality, which itself is unrelated to either pedophilia or fetishes.

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