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Have you ever heard of sapiosexuality?

While some attribute the use of the term sapiosexuality to the emergence of geek culture in the media, you may be surprised to learn that it's a universal notion that concerns us all. Regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity, you could be sapiosexual.


To determine whether you have this profile, let's first try to understand what it means.


A person is said to be "sapiosexual" if he or she is attracted by the intelligence he or she perceives in another person. They may, for example, admire the way someone speaks, thinks, is creative, reflects or sees the world differently. Such a person might be seduced by philosophical or intellectually stimulating conversations, or by a particular sense of humor that resonates with them.


In this sense, sapiosexuality is defined as a type of sexuality that consists of being attracted more by the content of a person's mind than by the appearance of their body. To feel sexually attracted to someone, a sapiosexual must first feel challenged on a mental level.


The search for a partner: a decisive choice


Basically, we're all looking for personal satisfaction and the need to be fulfilled. Most of us are also looking for a partner with whom to maintain, if possible, a long-term relationship.


Although satisfaction with one's own life is the result of a subjective and cognitive evaluation of all its dimensions (Diener et al., 1985), it should be noted that the value attributed to a partner predicts this long-term satisfaction, regardless of relationship status.


The choices people make when selecting romantic or sexual partners therefore have important consequences for their psychosocial health and developmental success.


It's hardly surprising, then, that these choices have been the subject of a great deal of scientific research, and that many researchers have taken an interest in the subject.


What emerges from their findings is that, for both men and women, intelligence is a highly sought-after characteristic in a long-term partner (Buss, 1989; Jonason and Antoon, 2019).


Physical attraction and psychological preference


There's no scientific doubt that physical attractiveness is extremely important in choosing a partner (Regan et al., 2000). However, this doesn't mean that men (or women) only want to date Victoria's Secret models, or that women (or men) only have eyes for famous actors like Brad Pitt.


Certainly, everyone needs their minimum standards of physical attractiveness to be met in order to engage in a relationship with anyone (Jonason and Antoon, 2019; Jonason et al., 2019; Li and Kenrick, 2006). Without this, no sexual attraction is possible and people will go their separate ways or simply remain friends.


But once these minimum standards - let's call them physical criteria - are met, there are plenty of psychological characteristics (e.g. IQ, status and shared values) that people find attractive (Li et al., 2002). And while some of these (e.g. humor, agreeableness and personality) are more important to many people than physical appearance (Regan et al., 2000), it's intelligence that is the primary criterion for sapiosexuals.

To evaluate your degree of sapiosexuality, you need to assess the importance you attach to your current or future partner's intelligence.


But how do psychometric experts measure intelligence? 


Perceived general competence


Among our ancestors, intelligence probably played a role in hunting, gathering, orienteering and tool-making. Today, socially recognized skills have more to do with the ability to adapt to a changing world. In such a context, a partner's intelligence offers distinct advantages for navigating modern life. 

What appeals to sapiosexuals in this sense is the perception of general competence.


Although intelligence is an important trait assessed by psychometrics (as an indicator of general competence), sapiosexual individuals' partner preferences are not necessarily focused solely on it. Partner selection may also be based on more overt indices of intelligence, such as education, income (or earning power), social status, creativity and sense of humor (Miller, 2001).


In other words, intelligence, which is often hidden from observers and researchers in the field - making it difficult to measure its importance or to draw statistical correlations when choosing a partner - is also an integral part of many sub-traits.


Indeed, intelligence (the primary trait) is closely linked to secondary competence traits, positively correlated with education (Ganzach et al., 2013), occupation and income (Strenze, 2007), creativity (Silva, 2008) and sense of humor (Howrigan and MacDonald, 2008).


This suggests that all these traits may be competing but non-collinear indicators of competence, with the possibility that intelligence may be the most central trait in the group. 


It would thus be natural to expect an individual with superior intelligence to attain and complete a higher level of education (on average), which would confer higher social status and income (on average). Indeed, studies of partner preference for intelligence and education level converge on similar conclusions (Jonason and Antoon, 2019; Jonason et al., 2019), with some researchers even combining education and intelligence into a single dimension (Fletcher et al., 2018


In conclusion...


The term sapiosexuality is relatively new and not without controversy. Some argue that it is not a legitimate orientation, but a type of attraction. People who describe themselves as sapiosexual suggest, however, that intelligence is more than just a quality they appreciate in a partner; it's the main factor in their sexual attraction, in the same way that a beautiful body or face has the potential to seduce others.


Like intelligence, sapiosexuality knows no limits! It can be embraced by men, women, trans people, bisexuals and more. Since sapiosexuality is based on criteria other than physical and sexual characteristics, it opens the door to the discovery of people from different groups, and gives a whole new dimension to the portrait we form of our attraction to o

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