ABSTRACT: Research has shown that romantic love can be regulated. We investigated perceptions about love regulation, because these perceptions may impact mental health and influence love regulation application. Two-hundred eighty-six participants completed a series of items online via Qualtrics that assessed perceived ability to up- and down-regulate, exaggerate and suppress the expression of, and start and stop different love types. We also tested individual differences in perceived love regulation ability. Participants thought that they could up- but not down-regulate love in general and that they could up-regulate love in general more than down-regulate it. Participants thought that they could up-regulate infatuation less than attachment and sexual desire. Participants also thought that they could exaggerate and suppress expressions of infatuation, attachment, and sexual desire, but that they could not start and stop infatuation and attachment, or start sexual desire. The more participants habitually used cognitive reappraisal, the more they thought that they could up- and down-regulate infatuation and attachment and up-regulate sexual desire. The more participants were infatuated with their beloved, the more they thought that they could up- but not down-regulate infatuation, attachment, and sexual desire. Finally, participants thought that they could up- and down-regulate happiness more than infatuation These findings are a first step toward the development of psychoeducation techniques to correct inaccurate love regulation perceptions, which may improve mental health and love regulation in daily life.
Project description:Love feelings can be more intense than desired (e.g., after a break-up) or less intense than desired (e.g., in long-term relationships). If only we could control our love feelings! We present the concept of explicit love regulation, which we define as the use of behavioral and cognitive strategies to change the intensity of current feelings of romantic love. We present the first two studies on preconceptions about, strategies for, and the feasibility of love regulation. Questionnaire responses showed that people perceive love feelings as somewhat uncontrollable. Still, in four open questions people reported to use strategies such as cognitive reappraisal, distraction, avoidance, and undertaking (new) activities to cope with break-ups, to maintain long-term relationships, and to regulate love feelings. Instructed up-regulation of love using reappraisal increased subjective feelings of attachment, while love down-regulation decreased subjective feelings of infatuation and attachment. We used the late positive potential (LPP) amplitude as an objective index of regulation success. Instructed love up-regulation enhanced the LPP between 300-400 ms in participants who were involved in a relationship and in participants who had recently experienced a romantic break-up, while love down-regulation reduced the LPP between 700-3000 ms in participants who were involved in a relationship. These findings corroborate the self-reported feasibility of love regulation, although they are complicated by the finding that love up-regulation also reduced the LPP between 700-3000 ms in participants who were involved in a relationship. To conclude, although people have the preconception that love feelings are uncontrollable, we show for the first time that intentional regulation of love feelings using reappraisal, and perhaps other strategies, is feasible. Love regulation will benefit individuals and society because it could enhance positive effects and reduce negative effects of romantic love.
Project description:Genome-wide transcriptome profiling of 111 peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) collected from 47 young women over the course of a 2-year longitudinal study of new romantic relationships. Overall design: To characterize the impact of romantic love on human genome function, we conducted genome-wide transcriptome profiling of 111 samples of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) collected from 47 young women over the course of a 2-year longitudinal study of new romantic relationships. Eligibility criteria included, 1) heterosexual female, 2) not pregnant or breastfeeding, 3) non-smoker, 4) no immune, cardiovascular, or psychiatric medication, 5) planning to remain in city for 6 mo, 6) in an exclusive (monogamous) romantic relationship for < 1 mo, and, 7) not yet in love with their partner. Following a baseline blod draw and survey, participants completed twice-monthly brief surveys until, 1) they reported falling in love with their partner, 2) they reported they and their partner had broken up, 3) they were selected as a yoked control participant for another participant that had fallen in love, or 4) 12 mo had elapsed. Any of these events triggered a 2nd blood sample and comprehensive survey. For those who had broken up, participation concluded after the 2nd blood draw. Those still in relationships continued to complete bi-weekly brief surveys until they either reported a break-up, they reported falling in love (if they were not in love at blood draw 2), or 12 mo had elapsed after blood draw 2. Participants were scheduled for a 3rd blood draw and comprehensive survey after any of these events . Brief surveys assessed whether participants were in love with their partner (0=no;1=yes), sexual behavior (e.g., sexual intercourse frequency per week, oral sex frequency per week, semen exposure [0=no;1=yes]) and self-reported illness symptoms (0=none;1=present).
Project description: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.
Project description:Although falling in love is one of the most important and psychologically potent events in human life, the somatic implications of new romantic love remain poorly understood. Psychological, immunological, and reproductive perspectives offer competing predictions of the specific transcriptional regulatory shifts that might accompany the experience of falling in love. To characterize the impact of romantic love on human genome function, we conducted genome-wide transcriptome profiling of 115 circulating immune cell samples collected from 47 young women over the course of a 2-year longitudinal study. Analyses revealed a selective alteration in immune cell gene regulation characterized by up-regulation of Type I interferon response genes associated with CD1C+/BDCA-1+ dendritic cells (DCs) and CLEC4C+/BDCA-2+ DCs, and a reciprocal down-regulation of ?-defensin-related transcripts associated with neutrophil granulocytes. These effects emerged above and beyond the effects of changes in illness, perceived social isolation, and sexual contact. These findings are consistent with a selective up-regulation of innate immune responses to viral infections (e.g., Type I interferons and DC) and with DC facilitation of sexual reproduction, and provide insight into the immunoregulatory correlates of one of the keystone experiences in human life.
Project description:Physical and emotional intimacy between humans and robots may become commonplace over the next decades, as technology improves at a rapid rate. This development provides new questions pertaining to how people perceive robots designed for different kinds of intimacy, both as companions and potentially as competitors. We performed a randomized experiment where participants read of either a robot that could only perform sexual acts, or only engage in non-sexual platonic love relationships. The results of the current study show that females have less positive views of robots, and especially of sex robots, compared to men. Contrary to the expectation rooted in evolutionary psychology, females expected to feel more jealousy if their partner got a sex robot, rather than a platonic love robot. The results further suggests that people project their own feelings about robots onto their partner, erroneously expecting their partner to react as they would to the thought of ones' partner having a robot.
Project description:The present study examined the neural correlates of long-term intense romantic love using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Ten women and 7 men married an average of 21.4 years underwent fMRI while viewing facial images of their partner. Control images included a highly familiar acquaintance; a close, long-term friend; and a low-familiar person. Effects specific to the intensely loved, long-term partner were found in: (i) areas of the dopamine-rich reward and basal ganglia system, such as the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and dorsal striatum, consistent with results from early-stage romantic love studies; and (ii) several regions implicated in maternal attachment, such as the globus pallidus (GP), substantia nigra, Raphe nucleus, thalamus, insular cortex, anterior cingulate and posterior cingulate. Correlations of neural activity in regions of interest with widely used questionnaires showed: (i) VTA and caudate responses correlated with romantic love scores and inclusion of other in the self; (ii) GP responses correlated with friendship-based love scores; (iii) hypothalamus and posterior hippocampus responses correlated with sexual frequency; and (iv) caudate, septum/fornix, posterior cingulate and posterior hippocampus responses correlated with obsession. Overall, results suggest that for some individuals the reward-value associated with a long-term partner may be sustained, similar to new love, but also involves brain systems implicated in attachment and pair-bonding.
Project description:In recent years, dating apps have changed the way people meet and communicate with potential romantic and/or sexual partners. There exists a stereotype considering that these apps are used only for casual sex, so those apps would not be an adequate resource to find a long-term relationship. The objective of this study was to analyze possible individual differences in the mating orientations (short-term vs. long-term) between users and non-users of dating apps. Participants were 902 single students from a mid-size Spanish university, of both sexes (63% female, and 37% male), aged between 18 and 26 years (M = 20.34, SD = 2.05), who completed a battery of online questionnaires. It was found that, whereas dating apps users had a higher short-term mating orientation than non-users (more frequent behavior, higher desire, and more positive attitude), there were no differences in the long-term orientation as a function of use/non-use. Considering this, dating apps are a resource with a strong presence of people interested on hooking-up while, simultaneously, not a bad (nor good) option for finding long-term love.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:Female sexual dysfunction affects up to 43% of women in the United States and hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) is the most common type; however, we lack treatment options showing improvement for this condition. AIMS:To investigate whether acupuncture therapy could improve HSDD. METHODS:Premenopausal women with a primary diagnosis of HSDD were included in a single-arm prospective pilot study that was approved by the institutional review board. After providing informed consent, subjects completed validated questionnaires. Participants underwent 25-minute twice-weekly acupuncture sessions for 5 weeks with one certified acupuncturist. Questionnaires were completed again 6 weeks after onset of treatment. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:Based on a statistically significant change in the desire domain of the Female Sexual Function Index from 2.0 (at baseline) to 2.4 (after intervention with a specialist) in our population of patients diagnosed with HSDD, a sample of 13 was determined, with 90% power and ? 0.05. RESULTS:Fifteen women were enrolled and 13 completed the study. Mean age was 36.9 ± 11.4 years. Most were white (n = 9, 60%), heterosexual (n = 15, 100%), and non-smokers (n = 14, 93%). Most were sexually active more than four times per month (n = 8, 53%) and none had a history of sexual abuse (n = 15, 100%). Participants received a mean acupuncture needle application of 17 ± 2 at each session. Sexual function improved after intervention, particularly desire (2.1 ± 0.6 to 3.3 ± 1.2, P < .0001), arousal (P < .0001), lubrication (P = .03), and orgasm (P = .005). CONCLUSION:In this cohort of premenopausal women with HSDD, 5 weeks of acupuncture therapy was associated with significant improvements in sexual function, particularly desire. This supports a role for acupuncture as a therapeutic option for women with low desire.
Project description:The experience of emotional intimacy is assumed to play a particularly large role in maintaining sexual desire and partnered sexual activity in romantic relationships of longer duration. It is unclear whether the effect of intimacy on sexual contact between partners is direct or indirect, via its impact on sexual desire. Baumeister and Bratslavsky suggested that a certain increment in emotional intimacy causes a greater increment in sexual desire in men than in women. In the present study, we aimed to test the mediating role of sexual desire between perceived intimacy and sexual partner interaction and the gender effect as hypothesized by Baumeister and Bratslavsky. Experience sampling methodology in the participant's natural environment was used. At 10 quasi-random moments per day, during 7 consecutive days, 134 participants reported their feelings of emotional intimacy, sexual desire, and sexual activity. The direct effect of intimacy on sexual partner interaction was not significant, but an indirect effect via sexual desire was observed. The strength of the association between intimacy and sexual desire diminished over time, from the strongest effect when intimacy, sexual desire, and sexual activity were measured simultaneously to a very small, but significant effect at an average time lag of 3 hr. At still larger time gaps, no effects were found. Men reported a higher average level of sexual desire than women, but the strength of the link between (increases in) intimacy and sexual desire was not different between the genders. The present findings suggest that in both male and female partners in romantic, long-term relationships, higher levels of intimacy are associated with higher sexual desire, which is, in turn, associated with higher odds for partnered sexual activity to occur. The temporal association of increasing intimacy and subsequent sexual desire appears not to be different in women and men.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The Elements of Desire Questionnaire (EDQ) is a patient-reported outcome (PRO) measure developed to evaluate sexual desire and was included in two identically designed phase 3 clinical trials (RECONNECT) as an exploratory endpoint. The EDQ was developed based on a literature review, qualitative research with patients with hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), and input from clinical experts. This instrument is intended to be used to collect efficacy data in clinical trials evaluating potential treatments for HSDD. The objective of this study was to evaluate the measurement properties of both the monthly and daily recall versions of the EDQ during the RECONNECT trials. METHODS:Participants completed the EDQ daily version for 7 consecutive days prior to selected monthly clinic visits. The monthly recall version was completed at each monthly clinic visit. The analysis population consisted of all subjects with Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) data at baseline and???1 follow-up visit. RESULTS:At baseline, 1144 and 676 subjects completed the monthly and daily recall EDQs, respectively. The EDQ scores had good internal consistency and test-retest reliability. Monthly and daily recall EDQ scores were correlated with FSFI-desire domain scores at baseline and month 3. Scores from the monthly and daily recall versions were also correlated. After 6?months, there was a significantly greater improvement for bremelanotide versus placebo in both the monthly and daily recall versions (both P?<?0.0001). CONCLUSIONS:The results demonstrated that EDQ exhibited good reliability, validity, and sensitivity to change. Consistent with other validated PRO measures of sexual desire, the EDQ provides additional insights into sexual desire. TRIAL REGISTRATION:NCT02338960 and NCT02333071 (RECONNECT studies).