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The New Psychology of Love

The New Psychology of Love

Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    The New Psychology of Love
    Book Description:

    Love . . . What is it? Can we define it? What is its role in our lives? What causes love, and what dooms it? No single theory adequately answers all our questions about the nature of love, yet there are many theories that can contribute to our understanding of it. This fascinating book presents the full range of psychological theories on love-biological, taxonomical, implicit, cultural-updated with the latest research in the field.Robert Sternberg and Karin Weis have here gathered more than a dozen expert contributors to address questions about defining love, the evidence for competing theories, and practical implications. Taken together, these essays offer a comprehensive and engaging comparison of contemporary data and theories.As a follow up toThe Psychology of Love, which was published in 1988 and edited by Robert Sternberg and Michael Barnes, this new collection engages with the many changes in the study of love in recent years. New theories are introduced as are modifications to existing theories. Focusing not on a single point of view but on the entire range of current theories,The New Psychology of Loveprovides today's definitive account of the nature of love.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15931-8
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Much of the universe of human interactions, as well as of people’s perceptions and understandings of the world in general, is centered on relations between couples. Coupling helps people to put order in their world and to come to a better understanding of what is happening around them.

    When the United States did not yet exist, and Columbus had not yet arrived in the Americas, people on the North American continent were already trying to make sense of their everyday lives and of the phenomena they encountered. Such phenomena included thunderstorms, droughts, the spectacular settings of their homes in the...

  5. Part I Biological Theories

    • 2 A Dynamical Evolutionary View of Love
      (pp. 15-34)

      The first step in scientific analysis—carefully describing the phenomenon of interest—has been a notoriously wobbly one for researchers interested in studying love. A big part of the problem is that “I love you” is a sentence that can be spoken with utter sincerity by a mother to her newborn infant, by a young man to a woman he met yesterday at a beach resort in Mexico, and by a heterosexual woman to her best female friend. What, if anything, does maternal love have to do with romantic infatuation, and what might either have to do with platonic love...

    • 3 A Behavioral Systems Approach to Romantic Love Relationships: Attachment, Caregiving, and Sex
      (pp. 35-64)

      InThe Psychology of Love(Sternberg and Barnes, 1988), Shaver, Hazan, and Bradshaw proposed that romantic love be conceptualized in terms of three behavioral systems discussed by Bowlby (1969/1982) in his ethological theory of attachment. Bowlby viewed attachment, caregiving, and sex (along with affiliation, exploration, and a few others) as innate motivational systems that had evolved over thousands of years because they increased the likelihood that infants would survive to reproductive age and be likely to contribute their genes to the next generation. In 1988, Bowlby’s theory was unfamiliar to most personality and social psychologists. It was so focused on...

    • 4 The Evolution of Love
      (pp. 65-86)

      “Love is blind,” according to a common saying. “Love is a recent invention, a mere few hundred years old,” some social scientists have argued. “Love is limited to Western cultures,” according to others. This chapter explains why all these beliefs are radically wrong. From an evolutionary perspective, love is an adaptation, or more accurately a complex suite of adaptations, designed to solve specific problems of survival and reproduction. It is an exquisitely honed set of psychological devices that for humans has served critical utilitarian functions in highly specific contexts. These functions are sufficiently numerous to give credence to another aphorism...

    • 5 The Drive to Love: The Neural Mechanism for Mate Selection
      (pp. 87-115)

      “Since the heaven and earth were created, you were made for me and I was made for you and I will not let you go,” declared Chang Po to his beloved Meilan (Yutang, 1954, p. 73). The Chinese still cry over this twelfth-century Chinese fable, “The Jade Goddess,” their version of Romeo and Juliet. “My beloved, the delight of my eyes,” exclaimed Inanna of her beloved Dumuzi in a Sumerian poem recorded some four thousand years ago (Wolkstein, 1991, p. 51). An anonymous Kwakiutl Indian of southern Alaska recited these words in 1896: “Fires run through my body—the pain...

    • 6 A Biobehavioral Model of Attachment and Bonding
      (pp. 116-146)

      The human brain is a remarkable product of evolution. While the basic machinery of the vertebrate brain has been in place for more than 450 million years, the appearance of our subspecies (Homo sapiens sapiens) emerged between one hundred thousand and two hundred thousand years ago. In the struggle for life, certain traits have come to predominate. We might surmise that elements in our mental and behavioral repertoire related to successful reproduction have been the focus of intense selective pressures ever since the first lactating protomammals emerged some three hundred million years ago. The selection of a mate, the bearing...

  6. Part II Taxonomies of Love

    • 7 Styles of Romantic Love
      (pp. 149-170)

      John Alan Lee’sThe Colours of Love(1973) stimulated considerable research interest following its publication. The volume offered a broad taxonomy of romantic love that was intuitively appealing, was based on extensive historical analysis of romantic literature, and was supported empirically by a complex interview procedure Lee called the Love Story Card Sort.

      This methodology was very labor-intensive, as described in a fifty-page appendix to Lee’s book. The card sort consisted of approximately 170 phrases, each on a green card. Examples included “The night after I met X …” and “During the time I was most deeply in love, some...

    • 8 Searching for the Meaning of “Love”
      (pp. 171-183)

      In his preface toThe Psychology of Love, Zick Rubin observed that the science of love was still in its infancy. “One sign of this immaturity,” he wrote, “is the fact that the investigators represented in this volume share so little of a common vocabulary” (1988, p. viii). Becauselovemeans different things to different people, Rubin advised that “Love researchers might do well to move toward a more common conceptual vocabulary” (p. ix). Indeed, adequate conceptualization is an “eternal verity” in the realm of scientific progress. Clear conceptualization of a phenomenon must precede its empirical investigation and the subsequent...

    • 9 A Duplex Theory of Love
      (pp. 184-199)

      The duplex theory of love captures two essential elements of the nature of love: first, its structure (a triangular subtheory), and second, its development (a subtheory of love as a story). The subtheory of love as a story is an attempt to specify how various kinds (triangles) of love develop. We consider each of the subtheories and then the duplex theory as a whole.

      The triangular theory of love (Sternberg, 1986, 1988a, 1988b, 1997, 1998a) holds that love can be understood in terms of three components that together can be viewed as forming the vertices of a triangle. The triangle...

    • 10 Giving and Receiving Communal Responsiveness as Love
      (pp. 200-222)

      The termloveis used in many different ways. It may refer to intense sexual feelings, to thinking about being with another person almost all the time, to motivation to be with that person, to feelings of friendship, and to selfless devotion to others. No one usage is correct. Here we explicate just one meaning of love: love ascommunal responsivenessin relationships, both as it is felt and enacted toward a partner and as a partner feels and enacts it toward the self. We discuss interpersonal processes that comprise and facilitate communal responsiveness and processes that detract from communal...

  7. Part III Implicit Theories of Love

    • 11 A Prototype Approach to Studying Love
      (pp. 225-246)

      What is love? This fundamental question, posed by Shakespeare inTwelfth Night, is one that has captured the imagination of social scientists. However, in contrast to Shakespeare and the philosophers, poets, and writers before him, social scientists’ interest in love is a relatively recent phenomenon. The study of love did not receive serious attention from social psychologists until the 1970s, when scholars such as Rubin (1970) and Berscheid and Hatfield (1974) began to focus on this topic. Their conceptualizations and empirical investigations, particularly Berscheid and Hatfield’s (1974) and Hatfield and Walster’s (1978) distinction between companionate love and passionate love, inspired...

  8. Part IV Cultural Theories of Love

    • 12 Evolutionary and Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Love: The Influence of Gender, Personality, and Local Ecology on Emotional Investment in Romantic Relationships
      (pp. 249-273)

      Why do some people experience more profound levels of love than others? The answer to that question depends first and foremost on one’s definition oflove(Hatfield and Rapson, 2002; S. Hendrick and Hendrick, 2002; Lee, 1973; Murstein, 1988; Rubin, 1970). Evolutionary psychologists tend to define love in terms of emotional investments that have reproductive or fitness-enhancing consequences (Buss, 1988; Fisher, 1992; Lampert, 1997). Stable influxes of love through parental closeness and emotional presence, for instance, reliably produce children and adolescents with adaptive attachment orientations (Bowlby, 1969; Hazan and Shaver, 1987). Love tends to lead to parents bonding immediately in...

    • 13 Passionate Love: Cross-Cultural and Evolutionary Perspectives
      (pp. 274-297)

      Passionate love (sometimes termed “obsessive love,” “infatuation,” “lovesickness,” or “being-in-love”) is a powerful emotional state. Hatfield and Rapson (1993) defined it as “A state of intense longing for union with another. Passionate love is a complex functional whole including appraisals or appreciations, subjective feelings, expressions, patterned physiological processes, action tendencies, and instrumental behaviors. Reciprocated love (union with the other) is associated with fulfillment and ecstasy. Unrequited love (separation), with emptiness, anxiety, or despair” (p. 5).

      The Passionate Love Scale (PLS) was designed to assess the cognitive, physiological, and behavioral incidents of such love (Hatfield and Sprecher, 1986). The PLS has...

    • 14 Individualism, Collectivism, and the Psychology of Love
      (pp. 298-312)

      What is love? Asking this question implies a search for clearly defining features of universal relevance. Theory and research on the psychology of love have often proceeded from the assumption that various “basic” processes, such as biological, cognitive, and/or evolutionary processes, underlie this complex human experience. From this perspective, the social context in which these processes unfold is relevant but not the central focus. An alternative view is that the psychology of love can be understood only by considering the social structure in which the patterns of personal relationships unfold. From this perspective, the social context is pivotal. Differences in...

  9. 15 Conclusion: The Nature and Interrelations of Theories of Love
    (pp. 313-326)

    The authors writing for this volume have presented a wide range of theories and research on the topic of love. They have used different methods and studied different aspects of the phenomenon. Having gotten some insights into all these areas, one can clearly say that things are on the move in the study of love. However, at times the variety of results and the different aspects of love that are studied can be quite overwhelming. Perhaps the ultimate goal is to have one all-encompassing theory of love that is able to explain all of its phenomena without contradictions. This goal...

  10. Contributors
    (pp. 327-328)
  11. Index
    (pp. 329-344)