Is 'Sapiosexualism' a real thing? |
Is ‘Sapiosexualism’ a real thing?

Is ‘Sapiosexualism’ a real thing?

7 Feb, 2020

It has become fashionable to claim that one is a sapiosexual or someone who finds intelligence an attractive quality. It raises many questions for those who don’t rush to call themselves sapiosexual. Do they not look for a smart partner? Very little scientific research is done on this rising urban slang. You can even take a quick online quiz to check whether you are a sapiosexual. But before you do that, here’s a quick look at what the term means to different people.

One of the biggest issues with claiming to be aroused or interested in someone intelligent is the way we perceive intelligence. While the only available research seems to point that there may be a section of the population who genuinely believe that intelligence is a major turn on, it raises more doubts or at least the need to research the term a bit more. Does it mean one is attracted to someone who has a great talent? A successful career? A flair for words? A knack for numbers? A great sense of humour? Obviously sapiosexuals don’t get to know the IQ levels of their partners so will this not vary according to the person.

Another issue is do we look at sapiosexuality as a separate sexual orientation? Maybe not. A person of any sexual orientation, homo, hetero, bi etc. may place intelligence over looks, personality or any other quality that they find attractive. 

In essence, does it mean that they are sapiophiles and not sapiosexuals? Though the terms sapiophile and sapiosexual are often used interchangeably, there seems to be some difference. Most people who are drawn to intelligence as a desirable quality in a partner may be sapiophiles. Whereas sapiosexuals might find themselves turned on by a stimulating conversation, a rousing debate or a lively performance. 

Many people describe themselves as a sapiosexual on their dating profiles to hint at some kind of intellectual superiority. They seem to believe that they are in a way declaring that they are intelligent by claiming to seek someone who has a high IQ. You will often find terms like Grammar Nazi or intellectual references to poets like Rumi on such profiles. One wonders whether they are sapiosexuals or using the right keywords to bait sapiosexuals. But, is that what being a sapiosexual all about? Are they highly intelligent people seeking other highly intelligent people?

Not according to a study published in the journal Intelligence titled Some people are attracted sexually to intelligence: A psychometric evaluation of sapiosexuality. The researchers surveyed 383 self-professed sapiosexuals on how they ranked intelligence as an attractive trait. The researchers found that there was a cap or limit to which high IQ was attractive. So an IQ of 120 was considered desirable but as it went higher, the desirability level dropped. Also, it didn’t matter whether those who identified as sapiosexual themselves had such a high IQ. While the study did not include those with an IQ below 100, it also did not find any correlation between their IQ level and the degree to which they identified as sapiosexual.

As the study had many limitations in terms of the selection of subjects and the areas they were quizzed,  looking at that study alone, all one can really conclude is that there is a certain percentage of people who genuinely believe they are turned on by intelligence over qualities like beauty or kindness.


Gignac, Gilles E. & Darbyshire, Joey & Ooi, Michelle, 2018. “Some people are attracted sexually to intelligence: A psychometric evaluation of sapiosexuality,” Intelligence, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 98-111.

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