Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Two Factor Theory of Love

A terrified person is potentially a person in love, as is an angry person, a jealous person, a rejected person, and a happy person.

Actually, every person who experiences the physiological arousal that accompanies strong emotions is potentially a person in love.

A woman who meets a man after the excitement of winning a great promotion in her work is more likely to fall in love with him than she would be on a routine day.

Likewise, a man is more likely to fall in love with a woman when mourning a terrible loss.

The reason, in both cases, has to do with the two components of love: arousal and a label.

The two factor theory of love is a derivation of a more general theory of emotions. According to this theory, like a car in order to arrive at its destiny needs for us to start the engine and then determine its direction, to define a certain emotion we also need two things:

One (which is analogous to starting the engine) is a general state of arousal; it is similar for all strong emotions and includes such physiological responses as rapid heart beat and fast breathing.

The second (which is analogous to steering the car in a certain direction) is an emotional label that explains the arousal – love, anger, fear, jealousy.

We learn the appropriate labels for different states of arousal (which is what we are supposed to feel in different situations) from our parents, teachers, friends, the media and personal experience.

We know, for example, that we are supposed to feel delighted when a dear friend comes for a visit, but anxious when followed on a dark street even when the physiological arousal involved in the same.

Combined effect of physiological arousal and a romantic label on the experience of romantic love can be explained:

To love passionately, a person must have first be physically aroused, a condition manifested by palpitations of the heart, nervous tremor, flushing and accelerated breathing. One he is so aroused all that remains is for him to identify this complex of feelings as passionate love, and he will have experienced authentic love.

Even of the initial physical arousal is the result of an irrelevant experience .....once he has met the person, been drawn to the person, and identified the experience as love, it is love.

Many people are personally acquainted with the phenomenon of spring fever.

This wonderful love ailment strikes during the early days of string, arriving with the sun, the blossoms and the fresh air the long gloom of winter.

But, as the personal experiences suggest every major life change causes arousal. From the exciting yet anxiety-provoking change of starting school or a new job, to a change in residence, to the painful loss of a significance person, major life changes increase the like-hood off falling in love.
The Two Factor Theory of Love

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