Scientists have discovered that a genius for crime or scientific discovery is equally susceptible to the comforts of marriage and fatherhood.
A study of the biographies of 280 great scientists and an examination of the typical career profiles of criminals has found that married scientists and criminals were much less successful than their unmarried counterparts.
The finding — for scientists at least — concurs with the popular image of the anti-social but successful scientists doggedly at work, lonely in their laboratory.
It also backs up the brutal observation by Albert Einstein, who wrote in 1942 that “a person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of 30 will never do so”. Satoshi Kanazawa, a psychologist at Canterbury University, New Zealand, examined the age at which leading scientists did their best work.
“Scientific productivity indeed fades with age,” Prof. Kanazawa said. “Two thirds will have made their most significant contributions before their mid-thirties.”
Regardless of age, the great minds who married as good as kissed goodbye to making another major breakthrough.
Within five years of settling down, almost a quarter of married scientists had made their last significant contribution to science’s hall of fame, New Scientist reported.
“Scientists rather quickly desist after their marriage, while unmarried scientists continue to make great scientific contributions later in their lives,” Prof. Kanazawa said.
The energy of youth and the dampening effect of marriage, he said, were also remarkably similar among virtuosi in music, painting and writing as well as in criminal activity.
Previous studies showed delinquents were overwhelmingly male, and usually began their criminal careers in their teens.
However, those who married well subsequently stopped committing crime, while their criminal single peers tended to continue their unlawful careers.
Prof. Kanazawa suggested “a single psychological mechanism” was responsible. He said the competitive edge among young men to fight for glory and gain the attention of women stimulated production of the vital male hormone, testosterone.