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Sex, Lies, Love and Psychology
Dr Barbara Lavi

Psychologists believe that love is:
a) a biological phenomenon
b) a learned behavior
c) a motivational drive
d) a social phenomenon
e) a basic emotion
f) a) & d)
g) b) & d)

I must admit, first that the post is not about sex and lies, but about love and psychology. I simply liked the sound of the title & hoped it would make people curious and click to read this article. My second admission, will be no surprise to those of you following this series, since I already told you that I dislike multiple choice questions. I thought about adding another possible answer, but thought it would make the quiz too easy. An added option, h) a), b), c), d) & e), is the actual answer.

Psychologists understand & explain love in multiple ways. Eric Fromm, author of The Art of Loving, is a proponent of love as a learned behavior: "Know that love is a learned skill, not something that comes from hormones or emotion particularly. (He) called it "an act of will." If you don't learn the skills of love you virtually guarantee that you will be depressed, not only because you will not be connected enough but because you will have many failure experiences." (1)

On the question of whether love is biological or a cultural phenomenon, in an article called, What Is Love?, on About.com Guide Kendra Cherry, concludes that "If love were a purely cultural invention, it would stand to reason that love would simply not exist in some cultures. However, anthropological research suggests that love is a universal emotion. Love is most likely influenced by both biological drives and cultural influences. While hormones and biology are important, the way we express and experience this emotion are influenced by our personal conceptions of love."

In contrast, Dr. Daniel G. Amen, psychiatrist & author, (whom I met when he opened a clinic recently in NYC) believes that romantic love is purely a motivational drive. In his book, The Brain in Love: 12 Lessons to Enhance Your Love Life, he says “that romantic love and infatuation are not so much of an emotion as they are motivational drives that are part of the brain's reward system.” (2)

There are several theories proposed by psychologists dividing love into several key elements. Psychologist Zick Rubin proposed three elements: attachment, the need to receive care, approval & physical contact; caring, valuing another's needs & happiness as much as your own; and intimacy, sharing thoughts, desires and feelings with the other person. (3)

In The Colors of Love (1973), John Lee compared styles of love to a color wheel. The various combinations act like the three primary colors. The combinations of the types of love lead to various shades of relationships. Using this color wheel theory he comes up with this pallet of six styles of loving relationships:

  • "Three primary styles:
    1. Eros – Loving an ideal person
    2. Ludos – Love as a game
    3. Storge – Love as friendship
  • Three secondary styles:
    1. Mania (Eros + Ludos) – Obsessive love
    2. Pragma (Ludos + Storge) – Realistic and practical love
    3. Agape (Eros + Storge) – Selfless love" (3)

To learn more about these and other ways psychologists to try to explain love, here are some articles I used to help understand this complex phenomenon.

Sources:
(1) The Power of Love from Psychology Today
(2) The Psychology Behind Love and Romance from South University
(3) Theories of Love by Kendra Cherry, About.com Guide

Copyright 2014.   Barbara Lavi.  All rights reserved.

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