Psychology of Love

Topics: Love, Triangular theory of love, Robert Sternberg Pages: 9 (2900 words) Published: November 26, 2012

Triangular Love Theory and The Effects on Our Brain
Merry Alijoski
College of New Rochelle

Author Note
This paper was prepared for Psychology 101, taught by Professor Hertler.

This paper presents the classification of love in Robert Sternberg’s triangular love theory and how the brain falls in love within the three components of love. The research findings hold significance to people who are or have been in love and have interest in classifying their love and understanding how they love. In this paper, research is cited to attempt and solve the biological mystery behind love and how love can be broken down into components. The brain plays a major role in loving other people and the components help define our relationships with the opposite sex. To gather information and results on this topic, I analyzed several books and articles on the psychology, evolution, and brain reactions of love. As a result of completing the above procedure, studies show how dopamine creates happy feelings. Sternberg’s triangular love theory provides components that have scores which increase and decrease over time. The larger implication of my findings reveals how love is complex and so is the biological process of it.

Keywords: love, brain, components

What is love? The definition is infinite. In history, scholars have primarily studied the nature of love. For instance, in 1886, the German pioneering sexologist and physician Richard von Krafft-Ebing classified five types of love. These types were known as true love, sentimental love, platonic love, friendship, and sensual love. Albert Ellis (1954) suggested further love varieties: “Love itself . . . includes many different types and degrees of affection, such as conjugal love, parental love, familial love, religious love, love of humanity, love of animals, love of things, self-love, sexual love, obsessive-compulsive love, etc.” (p. 101). Love is very complex and has been broken down into many theories such as the triangular love theory, types of love, and styles of love by Robert Sternberg. In terms of the biological aspect of love, it is extremely difficult to explain. Discoveries show how the brain processes though the body when a man or woman selects a mate. Results suggest that the “chemistry” of attraction between people comes from chemical processes within the brain.

Components of Triangular Love Theory
Robert Sternberg (1986, 1998) identified three terms of three basic components that create the vertices of the love triangle, known as intimacy, passion, and decision/commitment. The intimacy component refers to close, connected, and bonded feelings in loving relationships (Sternberg, 1989, p. 120). The passionate component has the motivational drive that can lead to such romantic and physical attraction, sexual consummation, and related wonders. Many factors contribute to passion such as the need for sexual arousal, self-esteem, association with people, power over others, obedience to others, and to achieve one’s potential. The decision and commitment component consists of two aspects, one short term and one long term. In a short term relationship, the decision one loves someone. Long term relationships consist of commitment to maintain that love. In most cases, decision will encourage commitment. If the love components begin to combine, then eight subsets that represent the classification of love are created. These eight types are extremes for reality. On occasion, someone would have an instance in which there is passion with no intimacy at all. The following represents the triangular love theory including the eight subsets. Figure 1.1 Sternberg’s triangular theory of love represents the three components of love and they are shown in the vertices of the triangle. The different types of love...
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