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Discuss and evaluate psychological explanations of love

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Introduction

Discuss and evaluate psychological explanations of love Hatfield and Walster (1981) proposed a three-factor theory of love. They argued that three components needed to be present for 'love' to occur. The first of these is physiological arousal, i.e. adrenaline levels have increased. Secondly, there needs to be an appropriate love object - the person needs to reciprocate feelings, be at the same level of attractiveness, and to be appropriate in terms of class etc. This is strengthened by the matching hypothesis. The last thing is cultural exposure. Tesser and Paulhus (1976) argue that our culture provides us with a model of love and the more that we are exposed to this idea, the more likely it is that we will find love. The three-factor theory is love is criticised because it is reductionist- it is simplified to the ingredients that could be reduced in a lab. In fact, people have different views of love and so it is wrong to over-simplify it to three factors. It also only focuses on love at first sight; however, people say they fall in love gradually. ...read more.

Middle

However, this study is criticised because the sample group is biased as it was only based on men. It therefore cannot be generalised to women because they have different views about love. Women may not see the interviewer as a possible relationship like men and therefore would not assume the physiological arousal was sexual attraction. It is also not a naturalistic study therefore it lacks ecological validity. Measuring physiological arousal through the means of a high suspension bridge is unreliable and not valid, and if the experiment was undertaken in a natural way then the results may be different. Sternberg devised the triangular theory love (1986), which suggests that there are three things needed for a complete relationship, these being passion, which relates to intensity and physical attraction. Intimacy refers to the warmth, closeness, caring and support the partners share. Last is commitment where the person makes decisions about staying with someone. If any one of these three is less than the others, than the relationship moves into companionate, fatuous or romantic. ...read more.

Conclusion

Items from the liking scale included "I would highly recommend [friend] for a responsible job". This theory is good because the sample group was based on a large number of people; therefore it has high validity. However, the fact that the research was only undertaken on undergraduate students means that the sample group cannot be generalised to the whole population as students may have different views on love. For example, most students are young and will therefore see love as having lower investment and being more of a short-term thing rather than long-term. Rubin's scale is good because it can be applied to same-sex friendships, unlike most other love theories. However, it doesn't clearly define the difference between love and liking. Sternberg and Grajek (1984) found that there were high correlations between love and liking and therefore this means that Rubin's scale doesn't discriminate very well between love and liking. There are also gender differences - women liked men more than men liked women. A general criticism of all of the theories mentioned is that they don't take into account individual differences. For example, everyone has different views about love and so people might not stick to the same things that the theories mention. ...read more.

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