Some People Really Are Attracted to Intelligence, Suggests Study On Sapiosexuality


Dami Olonisakin

Editorial Assistant



Tall, dark, and handsome are words often used to describe what some people find a "turn on" when looking for someone they’re attracted to. However, the word “sapiosexual” has also been trending for awhile in pop culture. The term is used to describe an attraction to someone with a high level of intelligence.

Now, a new study in the journal Intelligence supports the notion that people can be sexually excited by the intellect of someone else.


The study was led by Gilles Gignac, a senior lecturer from the University of Western Australia, and included 383 students. They all took a survey that included questions such as whether or not they saw high intelligence as a trait that turned them on. To help rate what was important to them, the questionnaire also included other questions about intelligence and qualities they look for in a love interest.

“We found that sapiosexuality can be measured psychometrically and that between 1 percent and 8 percent of relatively young people (18 to 35) may be sapiosexuals," shared Gignac to PsyPost. "However, interestingly, how intelligent a person is (measured with an actual IQ test) does not appear to predict the degree to which people identify themselves as a sapiosexual."

Other traits people looked for in a relationship included having an exciting personality and someone with an easy-going personality. Top on the list was someone who is kind and understanding. Intelligence took the second spot.

While participants were drawn to individuals with an extremely high IQ level, those who are more intelligent than 99 percent of people were seen as slightly less desirable. The sweet spot, it seems, is a level of intelligence around the 90th percentile. 


The poll also included questions that touched on how exciting it would be to have an “intellectually stimulating” conversation and whether or not listening to someone speak intelligently aroused them.

The team noted that it isn't uncommon for people to see intelligence as a positive trait due to what comes along with it, such as job opportunities and better decision-making.

A limitation of this study, according to Gignac, was that “the study did not include people with below-average levels of intelligence (i.e., IQ < 100).”


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