Written by Haley Adams
The theme of how people feel love is addressed in a study by Zita Oravecz, Chelsea Muth, and Joachim Vandekerckhove. The authors explore several aspects of feeling loved that stem from different types of situations, rather than only romantic scenarios. Their work serves as a starting point for researchers to assess what is involved regarding feelings of love. Further exploration could include incorporating personality assessments, in addition to the situational questionnaire. Ultimately, the researchers find that these feelings of love promote a healthy lifestyle and emotional well-being and often stem from experiences that have no romantic implications.
Why do we need to feel loved?
How do we feel love?
This study also examines how individuals feel about and receive messages of love. By incorporating the Cultural Consensus Theory, the researchers sought to “derive shared agreement or consensus truth from sets of items centered on a knowledge domain, while simultaneously accounting for and measuring differences in knowledge levels and cognitive response biases of respondents” (Oravecz et al., 2016). In order to accomplish this goal, the researchers asked participants to describe events in which they felt loved. Next, a second group of participants evaluated the resulting list by stating that the various scenarios, which were supposed to elicit feelings of being loved, were either true, false, or unclear. These statements began with “most people felt loved when…” and were completed with items that included “someone is polite to them… they feel close to nature… they attend a religious service… [and] someone is sexually attracted to them” (Oravecz et al., 2016). These examples were the highest ranked items on the list.
What do these results mean for me?
Oravecz, Z., Muth, C., & Vandekerckhove, J. (2016). Do People Agree on What Makes One Feel Loved? A Cognitive Psychometric Approach to the Consensus on Felt Love. PloS one, 11(4), 1-13. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0152803
Written by Savanna Yelverton
What is a hug?
Hugging is known as a physical expression of affection. Hugs are used to “express reunion after separation”, as a greeting, or as a parting gesture to say goodbye (Pillay, 2010). Over time, hugging has taken many forms, including ones that can be considered uncomfortable. Each type of hug is complex and is used in different situations (Pillay, 2010).
Types of Hugs
The Sideways Hug: This hug is where the pair hug from the side of their body, rather than by facing each other. This type of hug is most often used by men. “As they approach each other, the thought of their bodies colliding becomes a higher priority than the politeness of the hug" (Pillay, 2010). This kind of hug initially feels uncomfortable but provides a sense of relief to both individuals once the hug is over (Pillay, 2010).
The “Pleased to Meet You Belly Button” (PYMBB) Hug: This type of hug is a rare one, but it occurs in instances of an extreme height difference. If two people of varying heights engage in a hug, they may encounter strange body part interactions. For a person who is significantly shorter than the person being hugged, a face and belly button encounter may occur (Pillay, 2010). This hug is characterized by a great amount of discomfort and may occur quickly, as a result.
The Shoulder Hug: Similar to the sideways hug, this type of hug is used between two individuals who are showing appraisal of another’s actions but are not committed to a full expression of affection. This will result in a “shoulder pat with one hand” and a smile (Pillay, 2010). Eye contact is made during this hug, but this is to assure the other that no further affection will be given (Pillay, 2010).
The Elbow Hug: This type of hug is initiated with a smile, and each person’s hands are placed on the elbows of the other. It usually takes place when two people have “a mutual understanding that they do not want to wrinkle each other’s clothes” (Pillay, 2010). Other gestures that commonly accompany this hug include the “cheek squeeze” or a “you look great!” (Pillay, 2010).
The Benefits of Hugging
Another benefit of hugging is its ability to lead to improvements in our physical health. Humans have “pressure receptors” on their skin, and the sensation of being touched activates them. These receptors then “send signals to the vagus nerve,” which can lead to lower blood pressure (Holmes, 2014). Additionally, as shown in an experiment that was performed at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, heart health is also improved by hugging (Holmes, 2014). “Participants who didn’t have any contact with their partners developed a quickened heart rate of ten beats per minute, compared to the five beats per minute among those who got to hug their partners during the experiment” (Holmes, 2014).
Holmes, L. (2014). 7 Reasons Why We Should Be Giving More Hugs. The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
Pillay, S. (2010). The Art of Hugging: When A Hug Is Not All That It's Cracked Up To Be. Psychology Today. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
Written by Haley Adams
Unfortunately, loving someone does not always result in a happy ending, and “almost nobody gets out of love alive.” (Fisher, 2008). At a certain point, everyone experiences the pain of losing a loved one, and Emily Dickenson described this feeling best when she said, “parting is all we need to know of hell.” If love can result in so much pain, why do we as a society continue to seek it?
Why do we love?
Many single individuals experience the basic human drive to find a suitable mate. Similar to other animals, this drive involves the need to procreate and continue the human species. This drive does, however, differ from the sex drive because the feelings of romantic love motivate and allow an individual to focus their mating energy on one person at a time (Fisher, 2008).
What happens when our love is not returned?
Lucy Brown, a neuroscientist, recognized that three regions of the brain are activated when an individual who had been in love is dumped. The first region is the same area that is associated with intense romantic love, meaning that even after the relationship is terminated, these intense, romantic emotions are still being experienced. In fact, rejection can increase activity in this area, leading to stronger emotional experiences. The second area in which activity increased is the region that is associated with the calculation of gains and losses. This area is also active when an individual is willing to take risks that can result in an enormous gain or loss. The final area in which brain activity was observed is the region that is associated with deep attachment (Fisher, 2008). The combination of the increased activity in these three areas explains the reactions that occur in individuals who experience this rejection. Deep attachment, serious feelings of love, and a willingness to take large risks can help explain the crimes of passion that are often seen in the media.
Is love an addiction?
Additionally, similar to those experiencing addictions, those in love build up a tolerance and begin to crave being with the object of their love more and more as time passes and these emotions grow. When these increasing cravings are unable to be met, the individual in love experiences a form of withdrawal during which they intensely miss his or her partner. Lastly, those who were in love may experience an emotional relapse when attempting to move on after rejection, which can be caused by various triggers, such as a song or a movie that makes the individual think of his or her partner.
Final thoughts on love
The increased activity in the brain, including in the areas that spur intense feelings of love, the assessment of gains and losses, and deep attachment, influences the actions of the individual in love. Similar to other influences on the brain, reactions to love vary from individual to individual. However, the theme of love surrounds society and inspires a large portion of media creation, including the creation of books, movies, music and other forms of art. Without love and the intense feelings it creates, life may seem boring or meaningless to a large portion of society. As Robert Palmer would say, you “might as well face it, you’re addicted to love.”
Fisher, H. (2008, February). The Brain in Love. TED. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
Dr. H. Colleen Sinclair
Social Psychologist, Relationships Researcher,
Ms. Jessica Utley
Lab Manager of the Social Relations Collaborative and Blog Editor