Have the Psychologist anything useful to say about love?

It is fair to say that the concept of love is one that has so many definitions and manifestations across the world and probably, across related disciplines of psychology, that trying to estab-lish whether psychologists have anything useful to say about it would present difficulties. The second area has so many definitions and manifestations in the concept of what is “useful”.

In order to examine the questions whether or not psychologists have anything useful to say about love, it will be necessary to offer definitions given by these psychologists themselves, and look at their understanding of the concept of what is “useful” in these terms.

The work of Robert Sternberg (1986), John Alan Lee (1974) C. Yela Garcia (1996), Beverly Fehr (1988), Carl Rogers (1946), A. Aron and L. Westbay (1996) will be referred to in order to establish a positive conclusion about the usefulness of their perceptions and beliefs about the phenomena that is “love”
Psychologist and Social Scientist Robert Sternberg (1986) proposed a triangular theory of love that described love as having three general components passion, intimacy, decision and commitment. This is acknowledged as the “Typology of love relationship”.

According to Sternberg intimacy is a trait which changes in time of relationship. Intimacy is closeness to the second person, all positive feeling and operations which increases attachment to each other.
Robert Sternberg (1986) suggest that intimacy is like “burnt desire” to each other, feeling re-spect for each other, be able to count on partner, be complementary to each other, share spiri-tual and material experience, give and receive support from each other, experience happiness in a presence of partner, exchange intimate information about each other and consider partner as an important part of life. Emotions which are bundled in intimacy are result of communi-cation between partners and loved ones.

Dynamics of intimacy changes over time. In the beginning of love intimacy is low, and grows with time of relationship, and drops down after it reaches maximum.

A second component of love is passion which means experience of strong emotions in both relations good and bad. When intensity of passion is high people start to experience feelings like craving, happiness, longing, titillation, joules and unease. Those emotions are surrounded by a motivation to connect with object of love, physical callousness, and sexual contact. Very often Love is identified with passion.

Dynamic of passion. In an early stage of liking passion is really strong and is not liable to managing by self-knowledge. Subject does not have influence on dropping passions.

Passion can grow really quickly and in the same time can drop immediately and this fact is unavoidable. However dropping down of passions is not equivalent to ending of love.

And the last component is decision /commitment. Engagement and maintenance of the rela-tionship is all the action with target which transforms the relationship in love. It is a deliberate decision that happens in relationship. So the commitment is a component of love, the intensity of which everyone can control. Strong commitment can be effectual factor to support relationship. In relationship where partner is happy with each other commitment is the strongest factor which supports the feeling of love between them.

Dynamic of the commitment. In beginning of love when two people decide be together com-mitment gradually grows. When commitment reaches maximum stage, it will stay in the rela-tionship till the end.

In order to establish the usefulness of this theory it is important to provide the evidence from research of C. Yela Garcia (1996) who conductecd a study where she used Sternberg’s model as a conduct to try prove whether such proportions can be created only in four compo-nents: Erotic Passion, Romantic Passion, Intimacy, and Commitment. She tested the dynamic side of the model, that is, the temporal path of the components throughout a relationship.

The result supports the three components of love (including items from Sternberg theory) be-ing and existing in love relationships: “Being in love”, “Passional love” and “Companionate love”. (C. Yela Garcia 1996). These studies suggest that the Sternberg model can be used as explanation for love.

Additional usefulness of love theory is important to recognize the weaknesses of Sternberg theory. The simplification and condensation of the dimensions to just three: passion, intimacy and commitment can reduce the realistic understanding of love. Love often plays a significant role in people’s lives because phenomenon have an effect on experience and behaviour, and because a precise understanding of these conceptions may advance understanding of other aspects of love in relationship.

Love means sacrifice, love can be unconditional, devotion to the partner and attachment to love one, if love is all those thinks how we can say that have just three main dimension which are equally important. That can suggest that the simplification of the phenomenon can influence the psychologist’s description of love.

The Triangular Model of Love as well has a lot of strength and it has supporting evidence provide d by another psychologist. Beverly Fehr In 1988 presented a study where participants were given questionnaires where the source was Sternberg’s theory of love. She asked people to describe love in their own words and after that she analysed the responses. In the result she found three factors which are linked to the three components of Sternberg’s Theory of love. This result can insinuate that the Triangular theory of Love is provable and can be demon-strated as one of the psychological explanations for the dimension of love.

Another strength of the Triangular Theory of Love is that it can be used in counselling ther-apy which Carl Rogers (1946) named as “Love theory and Love Therapy”. Rogers developed a client –centred, person –centred method to counselling. For example commitment is impor-tant in relationship and helps both of the partners keep the relation together. Lack of com-mitment can make one of the partners want to change the situation and end the relationship. In counselling therapy this important factor of relationship can be revived and can help save love in the relationship. This approach suggests that it can be helpful for people to stay in control of one’s own belief and feelings and not to be influenced or controlled by other peo-ple. Additionally professionals can use Sternberg’s theory of love to improve people life through the counselling therapy.

Furthermore A. Aron and L. Westbay (1996) conducted a research which focused on concept of love, love experience in relationship. Such research is very important because love is in high position and has a big influence on people’s lives. The result of the study indicates that people’s concept of love and of their experience of love both have the same three-dimensional structure which related to the Sternberg three dimensions of love passion commitment and intimacy.

Making further literature review, we are able to find some weaknesses of the Sternberg Tri-angular Theory. The different value between the cultures show Sternberg’s three dimensions of love: passion, intimacy, and commitment in slightly darkness light because in the non-western world like India, China and most importantly Thailand people have certain types of judgements e.g. they value more commitment in relationship than passion (Sampson 1977). The conformity to role and duty in family are more importance then freedom of personal right. The Sternberg’s triangular theory and the meaning of the three component of love: passion, commitment and intimacy are not equally important in the non-western society. This suggests that the Triangular model fails when we looking for cultural differences in the society.

In addition to alternative love theories which are in use by Psychologists it is important to present the second theory which is one of the more interesting theories proposed by Johan Alan Lee (1973).Theoretical model of love identifies three primary Types of love style:

Eros is a romantic, passionate love where intimacy connects both partners and they believe in friendship forever. Eros lovers are verbally and physically expressive. Source of the passion is happiness. This type of love we can collate to love between siblings. The most important is to be with partner spiritually. This type of love can defeat any obstacle and barrier.

Second type of love style is Ludus. Ludus treat love as a play ground. In this game it is im-portant to be a winner, show better qualification and prove who is more important in the rela-tionship. Sex in this relationship has a form to satiate self- needs. If some problems appear in the sexual sphere, both of the partners will look for another lover rather fix the problem. In expression of Ludus often we can observe concentration on themselves.

The last one is Storge .In this love style the lovers are impressed by each other, they believe in love from first sight. The partner wants be similar and spend all the time together. Sex de-velops late in relationship.

Besides theory of love style Lee presents the three important compounds of love:

The first one is Mania (Eros + Ludus) -Both of the partner experience strong need for love. Partners are obsessed and jealous of each other. The relationship is stressful for both of the partners. Each partner needs constant attention. Low self -esteem. Short- lived.

Pragma (Ludus + Storge) – Love in this relationship is logical, rational. Love is based on practical compatibility rather then an extraordinary chemistry.

Agape. (Eros + Storge) = Altruistic style of loving, undemanding, chaste, sacrificing. The style of loving is a sense of duty without reciprocation and respect.

We have thus seen in this report that there is no single definition of Love. Love has been de-fined differently by psychologists and there is no single magical definition that best describes love. We have also seen the usefulness of love from different view points. We have discussed how different psychologists have used love to understand relationships and in some cases find solutions to common relationship and behavioural problems.


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