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Posted January 12, Reviewed by Kaja Perina. A question that receives quite a bit of attention in the psychological literature is why people fall in love. One promising answer is that romantic love occurs when the attributes that generate general attraction and the social factors and circumstances that produce passion are particularly strong.
Two further factors that can help explain why people fall in love involve mate selection Aron, et al. Another five factors seem to be required for the love to be truly passionate as opposed to being a kind of friendship love Aron, et al. Aron et al. The researchers found that the most frequently mentioned factor preceding experiences of love was finding certain characteristics of the other person desirable, as well as reciprocity of the experienced emotions. There was a moderate frequency of descriptions mentioning the factors that spark passion e.
There was a low to moderate frequency of descriptions of the other person being perceived as similar to the research participant. On the Falling in love psychology today model, we have the greatest propensity to fall in love when we perceive the other person as a way for us to undergo rapid self-expansion. Entering a committed relationship requires giving up some of our personal autonomy by including the other person in our life. Work in neuroscience supports these findings in psychology. The neurochemical profile of people who are in love is characterized by low levels of the satiation chemical serotonin Zeki, In this respect, the obsessive component of new love makes it similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Blood levels of adrenaline and other stress chemicals are increased by anxiety triggers. As argued by Dutton and Aronfeeling increased levels of adrenaline is sometimes mistaken for a feeling of being in love with a person. Dutton and Aron found that more men fell in love with an attractive female interviewer when she asked them questions in anxiety-provoking situations a fear -arousing suspension bridge compared to calm situations a non-fear arousing bridge. So, even in the absence of most of the other predictors of the onset of romantic love, meeting someone in an anxiety-provoking situation can cause us to fall in love with that person.
Another interesting feature of love is that a felt proximity to a new lover creates higher levels of the reward and motivation chemical dopaminewhereas distance can lead to cravings. Aron et al used functional magnetic resonance imaging to study people who were intensely in love from between 1 and 17 months.
The subjects viewed a photograph of their beloved and then, after a distraction-attention task, they viewed a photograph of a familiar individual. The researchers found heightened brain activation in the right ventral tegmental area and the right postero-dorsal body and medial caudate nucleus—dopamine-rich areas associated with reward and motivation—in response to the photographs of the individual the subject was in love with.
So, when you are in love, the imagined or actual presence of the beloved is rewarding and motivating. This can prompt us to go out of our Falling in love psychology today to be with our potential partner in order to experience the most intense feeling of reward. The main reason is that familiarity and similarity make it less likely that the other person will constitute an expansion of you, once you include him or her in your life.
These predictions are consistent with findings in neuroscience. Low levels of serotonin are likely counteracted by similarity and familiarity, which can prevent people from falling in love Zeki, At later stages of a love relationship, however, these same factors may correlate with higher levels of the attachment and bonding chemicals oxytocin and vasopressin, which have been shown to increase during the phase of a love relationship that fosters romantic attachment and pair bonding Zeki, Acevedo, B P. Does a long-term relationship kill romantic love?
Review of General Psychology, Vol 13 1 Dutton, D. Berit Brogaard, D. Berit Brogaard D. D The Mysteries of Love. Relationships Essential Re. References Acevedo, B P. Zeki, S. About the Author. Read Next.
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