Creativity as a Display of Proteanism

A second way to connect proteanism to creativity is through indicator theory. If proteanism was important to survival and reproduction among our group-living ancestors, then mate choice would have created the usual incentives to pay attention to it. In particular, individuals who showed better social proteanism abilities should have been favored as sexual partners, because their offspring would inherit these abilities, which would confer social benefits. Once sexual selection started focusing on proteanism as a criterion for mate choice, reliable indicators of proteanism might evolve. Any social behavior that clearly demonstrated randomization ability would tend to be included in courtship.

Some forms of everyday creativity, especially humor, could be viewed as proteanism displays. They harness randomization abilities in the service of courtship, not competition. When your train of thought proves fascinatingly unpredictable to a potential mate, perhaps you are also showing that your social strategies can be devastatingly unpredictable to your social competitors. Creativity displays make unpredictability attractive, not intimidating. Perhaps creativity evolved through sexual selection as a reliable indicator of social proteanism ability.

This idea makes some of the same predictions as the first hypothesis about brain systems for randomization. It suggests that individuals who are poor at social proteanism should be poor at creativity However, I don't find this idea completely satisfactory, because social proteanism abilities may have been less important than other abilities. Given a choice between an individual good at randomizing when he attacks and a very strong individual capable of winning any attack, mate choice may favor the strong over the random. The pressures of social competition may have been strong enough to favor good proteanism abilities, but it is not clear that they were so strong that sexual selection would have favored specific indicators of proteanism. Let's consider a third possible way to connect proteanism to creativity.

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