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Explain to what extent psychologists have explained love

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Explain to what extent psychologists have explained love Sternberg (1986) proposed a theory of love known as the 'triangular love theory'. It consists of three components: intimacy, commitment and passion. These three factors form the three sides of the 'love triangle', and the ideal situation would exist when there is a balance between the three: i.e. in the middle of the triangle. Other combinations lead to other types of love. For example, love which involves intimacy and commitment but no passion is described as companionate love. Love which does not involve any of the three factors is known as 'non-love', and may occur if partners are mutually desperate for company or are holding onto a relationship out of principle or social pressures rather than love itself. This theory can be criticised for focussing only on the present and not on the story of how the love became as it is. Sternberg combatted this by extending the theory to second approach, which states that people begin to form stories about what they believe love should be almost from when they are born by means such as observation. ...read more.


which only distinguishes between companionate and passionate love. Love can also be described as an attachment process. Bowlby's (1969) theory of attachment suggests that infants' personalities are determined by how they are treated by their caregivers, and Ainsworth (1967) produced from her Strange Situation research three attachment styles: secure, insecure-avoidant and insecure-resistant. These, according to Bowlby's (1969) theory, are likely to affect how the infants relate with others later in life, as the mother's behaviour creates an internal working model of relationships which the infants will then use as a foundation for future relationships. Hazan & Shaver (1987) extended Bowlby's continuity hypothesis, predicting that attachment types early in life affect how love is experienced as an adult, how adults view relationships and what memories the adults have of their childhood relationship with their mothers. For example securely attached people are hypothesised to have positive relationships and to have a positive image of their mother-child relationship as a child, but insecure-avoidant adults will be fearful of proximity and view their childhood relationship with their mother as being cold and lonely. This is supported by the 'love quiz' (Hazan & Shaver, 1987), a questionnaire designed to find links between childhood attachment type and current love experiences. ...read more.


Another methodological criticism of such research is that it is largely correlational, so it is impossible to deduce what causes what. Kagan (1984) suggests that attachment type (and subsequently love experiences) are not determined by childhood treatment by caregivers, but instead by one's innate temperament. Kagan's temperament hypothesis suggests that we gain our personality type, attachment type and our reaction to love and relationships as a result of our temperament, and that this is a predisposing factor present before birth. This is acceptable as an explanation as it explains why there is a continuity of behaviour throughout a person's life with regard to relationship behaviours. This view is nonetheless deterministic, and cannot explain how differences occur. All of these explanations offer an account for how we experience love and how this develops and progresses: both use methods of classification of love (i.e. typology and attachment types, respectively) and both provide explanations (i.e. stories and an internal working model). This may, however, be a reductionist view, as it may not be possible to categorise love in such a manner, as it is largely understood to be a qualitative phenomenon (e.g. Rubin, 1974). Clive Newstead ...read more.

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