What is Love?-Brandon

This week’s lecture was a great break from the usual routine. The President of Yale College, Professor Peter Salovey spoke about emotion, specifically love. He is best known for pioneering the concept of emotional intelligence. He also noted that many of the studies he references are from the 1950s and 1960s and not considered ethical by today’s standards. Also, most of these studies are anglocentric and heterocentric. Salovey said that it is up to the audience to decide whether or not these studies can be generalized so I’ll leave that to you. 

Salovey decided to focus on Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love. It states that intimacy, passion, and decision/ commitment are all required to have true love which is referred to as consummate love. I have attached a visual of Steinberg’s Triangle. There is also a more detailed chart from slide four from the lecture Powerpoint that I could not save so I have attached it here. I’m a visual person and I think that reading through both of these charts will help you better understand Sternberg’s Theory. The jist of it is that there are many combinations that can be put together to create romantic love or companionship but true love cannot be achieved with the combination of all three: intimacy, passion, and commitment.


When it comes to who we fall in love with, Professor Salovey brought up the Big Three; Proximity, Similarity, and Familiarity. All things being equal (which is incredibly hard to measure), these three factors will influence attraction the most. In Manhattan, where the city blocks are nicely spaced out in grids, researchers have concluded that with all things being equal, one will be attached to the person closest to them.

He also dispelled common cultural myths. The first being “Opposites Attract”. It has been proved time and time again that this saying is a misnomer. Once again, all things being equal, those with similarities with potential partners are more likely to get together. To those couples who are completely different, Professor Salovey has two words: good luck. Familiarity is the last of the big three. The two strangers lock eyes across the room is something that is usually reserved for the movies. It does not happen very often in real life. Most people meet through work, school, or mutual friends. This video was recorded in 2007 and I was wondering if the rise of online dating might shake-up the Big Three components of love. Proximity and familiarity might not be as important ten, twenty, fifty years from now. Hopefully some meaningful and thorough studies will come-up on this topic in a few years. What do you think about the internet’s role in finding love?

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3 thoughts on “What is Love?-Brandon

  1. mxagro

    I enjoy the way you use image to explain your concept; it really helps me to understand what you want to convey. I do wish to learn a little bit more about how consummate love is formed and I hope you will keep posting interesting blogs.

  2. realrowo

    Another great blog post Brandon. I enjoyed your explanation of love, especially through that clear pyramid graph you posted. Sometimes when I am rather calm and settled, I also think about the concept of love and the differences between different loves, even though not from a psychological way but a philosophical way. I like how your post is highly related with the topic you have been researching on, and I can’t wait to see more of your posts.

  3. emmalefebvre

    I found this post very interesting. I thought your explained the main ideas very concisely, and the picture helped too. You posed a good question too on how online dating may change the world’s definition of love– if you figure out the answer, let me know!


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