The Psychology of Everyday Life:Love, Marriage, and the Baby Carriage


What is the triangular theory of love?

Drawing from previous research, Robert Sternberg proposed the triangular theory of love in a 1986 paper. In this model, all love is composed of three elements: intimacy, passion, and commitment. Intimacy involves closeness, caring, and emotional support. Passion refers to states of emotional and physiological arousal. This includes sexual arousal and physical attraction, as well as other kinds of intense emotional experiences. For example, parents can feel passionate love toward their children. Commitment involves a decision to commit to loving the other and trying to maintain that love over time. Using different combinations of these three elements, Sternberg described eight different kinds of love: nonlove (low on all three elements), liking (high on intimacy only), infatuated love (passion only), empty love (commitment only), romantic love (intimacy and passion), companionate love (intimacy and commitment), fatuous love (passion and commitment), and consummate love (all three together). While this approach may not capture the full complexities of love, it does seem to make intuitive sense.


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