Saturday, February 23, 2008

Love, desire and "romantic alternatives"

Researchers from UCLA and the online dating service eHarmony asked 120 UCLA students to look at photographs of very attractive people of the opposite sex, and choose the one they thought was most attractive. All 120 reported that they were in “committed” relationships. After viewing the photographs, the students were divided into three groups:
  • One wrote an essay about a situation where they felt the most love for their partner.
  • The second group wrote about a time they felt the most sexual desire for their partner.
  • The third group wrote about a subject of their own choice.
While writing, the students were instructed to put a check mark in the margin of their essay every time they thought about the attractive person they chose.

Compared to the control group (who wrote about their own topic), people writing about love were 6 times less likely to think about the attractive person, and people writing about sexual desire for their partner were 4 times less likely.

The researchers also asked the students to describe the photo “hottie” after writing their essays. The love essay writers remembered only about 2/3 the number of attractive features as the other groups.

The researchers concluded that reflecting on the love you have for one person effectively filters out temptation for another.

Gonzaga, G., Haselton, M. G., Smurda, J., Davies, M. S., & Poore, J. C. (2008). Love, desire, and the suppression of thoughts of romantic alternatives. Evolution and Human Behavior.


missknits said...

hmmm very interesting! great blog!

Anonymous said...

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Looneybird Moonmaiden said...

i definitely agree. i've been with my husband since i was 15-there will always be attractive folks out there, but at the very core of what keeps this thing together is a deep-rooted love. i've yet to come across another human (other than our offspring)who can incite the flurry of 'feel good' emotions he can.

ingermaaike said...

I just added you to my list of interesting blogs. I love evolutionary psychology. So many behaviours can be explained that way. More people should realise this.

rtisan said...

That's interesting and also good news if you are in a goodrelationship. you will be less tempted to stray!

KieutiePie said...

very interesting!

QuintessentiallyEnglish said...

i would never have guessed those results (and we just finished learning about love and affection!). Interesting research and thanks for keeping me up-to-date with my psychology!
From your fellow Psych person :)

PS My blog used to be with Wordpress but now im on blogger :)

miznyc said...

how well "lovely"!