Reading other people’s eyes is a valuable skill during interpersonal interaction. Although a number of studies have investigated visual patterns in relation to the perceiver’s interest, intentions, and goals, little is known about eye gaze when it comes to differentiating intentions to love from intentions to lust (sexual desire). To address this question, we conducted two experiments: one testing whether the visual pattern related to the perception of love differs from that related to lust and one testing whether the visual pattern related to the expression of love differs from that related to lust. Our results show that a person’s eye gaze shifts as a function of his or her goal (love vs. lust) when looking at a visual stimulus. Such identification of distinct visual patterns for love and lust could have theoretical and clinical importance in couples therapy when these two phenomena are difficult to disentangle from one another on the basis of patients' self-reports.
“Neuroreductionism” is the tendency to reduce complex mental phenomena to brain states, confusing correlation for physical causation. In this paper, we illustrate the dangers of this popular neuro-fallacy, by looking at an example drawn from the media: a story about “hypoactive sexual desire disorder” in women. We discuss the role of folk dualism in perpetuating such a confusion, and draw some conclusions about the role of “brain scans” in our understanding of romantic love.
Romantic love in late life is often beneficial, though not without challenges. Financial concerns and objections of adult children can interfere with a late-life individual’s decision to commit to a romantic relationship. In this study, the experience of romantic love for women who enter committed relationships in later life was examined. Fourteen women between the ages of 65 and 84 who had lived the experience of romantic love in late life were interviewed. By using Moustakas’s qualitative Transcendental Phenomenological method, several themes emerged to provide a description of the phenomena. These themes included openness to experience, attraction, commitment, adjournment, and generativity. According to the findings of this study, women in late life who form committed romantic love relationships negate the physical and emotional effects of loneliness brought about by bereavement or single status in late-life women. In addition, this study found these women were attracted to partners to fulfill their needs for love, esteem, spiritual connection, and self-actualization.
Prior research on romantic relationships suggests that being in love involves a blurring of self-other cognitive boundaries. However, this research has focused so far on conceptual self-representation, related to the individual’s traits or interests. The present study tested the hypothesis that passionate love involves a reduced discrimination between the self and the romantic partner at a bodily level, as indexed by an increased Joint Simon effect (JSE), and we further examined whether this self-other discrimination correlated with the passion felt for the partner. As predicted, we found an increased JSE when participants performed the Joint Simon Task with their romantic partner compared with a friend of the opposite sex. Providing support for the self-expansion model of love (Aron and Aron in Pers Relatsh 3(1):45-58, 1996), this result indicates that romantic relationships blur the boundaries between the self and the romantic partner at a bodily level. Furthermore, the strength of romantic feelings was positively correlated with the magnitude of the JSE when sharing the task with the romantic partner.