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Analyzing Love?

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Excerpts taken from thes.co.uk (requires paid subscription)


" Why someone falls in love with one person rather than another from the

thousands of potential partners they encounter remains a mystery of profound

proportions. Chance, chemistry and the odds that two small windows of

receptivity will open simultaneously at the precise moment of meeting guarantee unpredictability. Nevertheless, science has made modest inroads into understanding the ins and outs of love. " .............


" My study of the mate preferences of 10,047 individuals from 37 different

cultures located on six continents and five islands also revealed the

importance and universality of love. I found that "love and mutual attraction"

was rated as the most indispensable of 18 possible attributes in a potential

marriage partner - by both sexes, in all cultures. Through the vagaries of

cultural prescriptions and political regimes, diversity of mating systems,

disparities of economic conditions and multiplicity of religious exhortations,

humans everywhere apparently long for love." ............


" What was surprising to social scientists was the discovery of universal sex

differences. Men worldwide place more importance on youth and physical

attractiveness, qualities now known to be important signals of a woman's

fertility and future reproductive potential. Women across the globe want men

who are ambitious, enjoy decent social status, possess resources or the

potential to acquire them, and who were born a few years before they were. " ..........


" But is love a cold-blooded appraisal of a person's spec sheet or an emotion

that blinds us to deficits? It is a bit of both. While people rarely fall in

love with those who lack the qualities that they desire, love may have evolved

to blind us to a partner's deficiencies. Few people possess the full complement

of desired qualities and most of us have to settle for less than we would want

in an ideal world.


Usually, only those high in desirability can attract others comparably high.

Perhaps the most scientifically documented law of love is assortative mating,

the pervasive coupling of people who are similar to each other. Intelligent,

educated people marry those who share their insights and erudition. The

glamourous pair off with the glamourous. Although opposites occasionally

attract, when it comes to long-term love the "eight out of tens" typically

marry other eights, while the "six out of tens" go with the other "sixes". " ............


" It would not pay to harp on about deficiencies while falling in love. In fact,

a recent study reported that most people show "love's illusion" of being overly

optimistic about their chances of marital success. Whereas about 50 per cent of marriages will end in divorce, only 11 per cent of married people thought that their own marriage would end in divorce. Among a younger group of unmarried individuals, only 12 per cent thought that their future marriage would have a 50 per cent chance of splitting. These findings may reflect adaptive biases that, although clearly off target, do function to increase the odds of success. According to this explanation, love is an emotion that motivates people to persevere through thick and thin, even if it does not always work out in the end.


In short, love can blind us in two ways - first, by making us happy to settle

for someone who is less than our imagined ideal, and second, by being

optimistic about the future of the romance, thereby enhancing its chances. " ..........


" Evolutionary economist Robert Frank argues that love is a solution to the

problem of commitment. If a partner chooses you for rational reasons, he or she might leave you for the same rational reasons, finding someone slightly more desirable on all of the "rational" criteria. This creates a commitment problem: how can you be sure that a person will stick with you? If your partner is blinded by an uncontrollable love that cannot be helped and cannot be chosen, a love for only you and no other, then commitment will not waver.


It is likely that the causal arrow also runs in reverse. Love may be the

psychological reward we experience when the problem of commitment is

successfully being solved. It is a mind-body opium that signals that the

adaptive problems of mate selection, sexual congress, devotion and loyalty have met with triumph. The scientific explanation is that evolution has installed in the human brain reward mechanisms that keep us performing activities that lead to successful reproduction. The down side is that the drug wears off. Some get on a hedonic treadmill, chasing the high that accompanies love. Repeating successful mating with fresh partners brings back the buzz, but perhaps never to its former level.


Love may be a solution to the commitment problem or an intoxicating reward for successfully solving it, or both. But there is no question that love is an

emotion intimately linked with commitment.

In my studies of 115 different actions that signal whether a person is truly in

love, acts of commitment topped the list, such as talking about marriage or

expressing a desire to raise a family. The most salient acts of love signal the

commitment of sexual, economic, emotional and genetic resources to one person. " ......


" Then we must consider the harsh metric of the mating market. Consider an

entry-level professional couple. If the woman's career skyrockets and the man gets fired, it puts a strain on both because their market values now differ. To the woman, a "nine" who was previously out of reach now becomes available. In the evolutionary jungle of mating, we may admire a woman who stands by her loser husband. But those who do are not like our ancestors. Modern humans descended from those who traded up when the increment was sufficient to outweigh the manifold costs people experience as a consequence of breaking up.

Falling out of love has many dark sides. The crash can be physically dangerous for women and psychologically traumatic for both sexes. Men who get rejected by the woman with whom they are in love often abuse them emotionally and sometimes physically. In our recent studies, we found that an alarming number of men who are unceremoniously dumped begin to have homicidal fantasies. Just as evolution has installed reward mechanisms that flood us with pleasure when we successfully mate, it may have also equipped us with mechanisms that deliver psychological pain when we experience mating failure. "


Comments anyone?

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Some excerpts from "The Lab". web address follows


Addicted to love?

Biochemically, falling in love is pretty much like getting simultaneously smashed on low-dose speed, E, and heroin.


The whole tears & chocolates thing

One day, you wake up from the cloud of love drugs that you're brain's been swimming in for the last few months. Suddenly Mr/Ms Answer To Your Dreams isn't looking so hot. And what is that smell???


Roses aren't forever?

Diamonds might be forever, but don't often score a bunch of them from a loved one. So how do you make a dozen roses last the distance in a vase? We've done the experiment for you and the results are online right now!



These are the days of modern romance. No more flowers, chocolates, or gentlemen laying their coats over puddles. Nowadays it's all 'U R CUTE' SMS messages and e-postcards of dancing cats blowing pink, heart-shaped kisses.





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