The Science Behind Love Essay
The Science Behind Love
What is this thing called love? There are so many definitions that people can come up with for love. Some are easy to understand while others do not make that much sense. Many people think that love is something that happens in a split of a second. Actually what people don’t know about love is that it does not happen in a split of a second. Psychologists and scientists have said that in order for someone to fall in love, it would take at least 90 seconds to 4 minutes (Fisher, 2004). Many studies have been done to prove that the brain of the individual that is in love goes through a weird domino effect. It produces certain chemicals that make the individual act strange when the person is in love. It has also been said that in a way, science can help people that are in relationships (The evolution of romance, 2007).
So the main questions would be that what are the chemicals that make a person in love and what are the tips that science can offer to benefit the relationships of people who are in love? Many people have this one question in their mind: what is love? What is the full definition of it? There is no one definite definition for it but one can conclude that love is something magical and it is something that everyone experiences in their life at one point. So what does love do to a person? How does it make them feel physically, emotionally, and mentally? When a person is in love, physically it does not really do that much. It does not change how to person looks or anything. What love does to a person is more mental and emotional changes.
Mentally what love does to a person is that it makes them crazy; in other words, it makes them do some weird things (Middleton & Anderson, 2006). Emotionally what love does to a person is that it makes them love someone else who is their everything in their life. At times it is weird how a person who is so much in love acts; they would say stupid things and do stupid things too (Thorton, Carmody, 2010). Many studies have been done to show that love does not involve just the heart. It also involves the brain.
Actually the brain does play a huge part in the whole sequence of love. In other words, it goes through some weird domino effect that no one had ever thought about. Researchers have found out that there are these certain chemicals, or more like hormones, that are produced in the body which are sent to the brain (Murphy,m2001). These certain chemicals would be oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine. The parts of the brain that these chemicals play on the most would be the hippocampus and the thalamus (Murphy, 2001).
There are many differences that can be said between men and women when they are in love. According to researchers, they say that women are more willing to make a change in the relationship while at times, men are just there. Men do some things to make a relationship work but not as much as the women would do it. Now researchers are wondering is it because of the chemicals that are in the brain that is making the women act much differently than the men.
Researchers have also found out the in women, there is a higher amount of serotonin and dopamine but in men, there is a higher level of oxytocin (Young, 2009). It is due to the cause that since women produce estrogen where men produce testerone so it is due to these factors that men and women have different levels of these three chemicals that help play the role of love (Young,2009).
They also those animals also have many differences among the humans. It is true that animals do experience love just the way that humans do and to some extent, they also have the same chemicals in their brains as well but not as much as the humans do (Rooks,2009).
So what kind of love has to happen in order for the brain to be the major factor in the love process? Researchers have concluded that it can be almost any type of love. It can be a crush, deep love, intense love or any type of love that exist in this world today. Studies have shown that it takes about 90 seconds to 4 minutes to actually like someone or even possibly fall in love with them (Fisher 2004). It is pretty interesting that you can fall in love with someone within seconds and minutes but what does that brain have to do it? Let’s explore some of the studies that certain scientists have done.
One of the famous studies that have been was by Helen Fisher who is a professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Fisher had a hypothesis where the three chemicals dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin have a major role in the brain when a person is in love. She decided to conduct a study where she would give the volunteers a picture of the person that they love then showing them another picture of someone else. This test would tell us how quickly the brain reacts with these three chemicals in play. After that, their brains would be scanned under a brain scanner which would show more evidence for this experiment. It would show the blood flow activity that happens when the chemicals play around with the brain.
Many volunteers were interested in this case study yet there were some groups of people that were not allowed to participate in the case. People with some type of metal in their heads, for example lip ring or braces were not allowed to be in the study. People that were claustrophobic or were left handed were not allowed either. They wanted people that were passionately in love and that could hardly eat, sleep or drink because they are that much in love. Fisher was astonished with the results that she found upon this study.
Her exact finding in this study was that the three chemicals that she used in her hypothesis were correct Before scientists only concluded that body movements is what made us react when we are in love but now it is proven to fact that the brain has its own central and network for the actions that are related in love. Her conclusion was that there was a part of the brain that played around the most with the subjects. All three of the chemicals that she used in her hypothesis were also in the brain that played the major part when a person is in love.
There was this dopamine mother lode. What this does is that it elevated the amount of dopamine that goes into the brain when the person was in love. Many people think that love is a very small process that happens in the brain but it is clearly a much more difficult process (Fisher, 2004). Another famous study that was done was by the authors Bianch-Demicheli, Grafton and Ortigue (2006).Bianch-Demicheli, Grafton and Ortigue combined their findings when they conducted experiments where they would tell their study subjects the name of their lovers and with that, they would scan their brains and see how the brain reacts when basically their lover is the only thing that is in their mind.
Another study was conducted where instead of saying the subject’s lover’s name; they would say a favorite sport, TV show or something along that nature and see the difference it has on the brain. They had about 46 participants that were willing to be part of the study.
Two studies were conducted yet it was separated in men and women. The results were that there was a similar reaction time that happened between both experiments yet for the women, there was a little faster reaction time where they could think of their beloved much faster than the men. The time that they would think about their lover to the time that they would think about their favorite past time was the same. It also showed that their responses to the to lover’s name was much more active in the brain then the responses to their favorite pastime.
The study that was done by Ortigue and her team explains to us that actually what parts of the brain are active when that individual is in love. It also does a control experiment where instead of using the individual’s lover’s picture, they would use another picture of some type of hobby that they like to do. By showing both the lover’s picture and the picture of their favorite hobby, at times, the brain levels were almost the same.
Similar studies have been done to conclude the same facts and data that Fisher and Ortigue and team have found in their experiments. Robert Epstein teaches a course on relationship science where he makes his students participate in numerous amounts of experiments that would prove in a way what science has to do with relationship and how they can help as well. Robert Epstein is a professor at the University of California where he teaches a course on relationship science.
He believes that in order for his students to understand the subject matter better, they should have hands-on exercises and experiments, one of which is Soul Gazing where he would pair each of the students with someone else and have them look deeply into each other’s eyes. From this whole class, 89 percent of them experienced a lot of intimacy feelings between them. Epstein then explains to us how almost half of the US first marriages fail and he believes that the only way to fix the poor relationship performance is to find a “practical technology technique” (2010) and then teach it to the people.
. In a study that was done by James D. Laird and his fellow colleagues in 1989, Epstein says that Mutual Eye Gazing made the subjects in the study have a lot of feelings which rapidly increased. Those feelings made the subjects like and love total strangers. Both Soul Gazing and Mutual Gazing increased intimacy and it made the people feel vulnerable. A lot of the exercises showed some obvious results between males and females. One of the males showed no positive effects when he did the exercise with another guy. To him, it made him feel very uncomfortable.
Yet when he did the exercise with a girl, his intimacy rate went up by 25 percent but the girl’s rate went up by 144 percent! By this, once can conclude that girls have more intimacy feelings then boys. One of the students Olivia did another exercise Secret Swap where it creates vulnerability when people share their close secrets with each other. When Olivia did this exercise with her mother, both intimacy and vulnerability rates went up 31 percent. She did the Soul Gazing with a total stranger and her intimacy rate went up 70 percent. It’s quite amazing that with a total stranger, your intimacy rates go up.
There are some examples of movies and books that can portray these findings that these scientists have found. One good example that can easily relate would the famous story of Romeo and Juliet. With the studies that Robert Epstein has conducted, Romeo and Juliet are closely related. In the story, Romeo and Juliet see each other for the first time and right then and there, they fall in love. In other words, this can be stated as “love at first sight”.
This can conclude the studies by Epstein and Fisher when she said that a person can fall in love with someone from 90 seconds to 4 minutes. Romeo and Juliet just see each other for the very first time and instantly they fell in love. People in the modern world still think that “love” is so unrealistic. Honestly in a way, that is kind of weird because they did not even know each other for even a minute and they fell in love.
Another example of these findings would this Indian movie called Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, directed by Karan Johar. This movie is about two friends Rahul and Anjali in college and they are best friends throughout their four years of college. Everyone would think that they are in love but they are not really.
Rahul would always say that I am going to find the perfect girl for me and Anjali would help him out. Until the day another girl Tina came. Right then and there, Rahul started to fall in love with Tina but there was nothing more than flirting between them. Then during their English literature class, they were talking about Shakespeare and his Romeo and Juliet story. The question was asked “what is love?” This was Rahul’s answer: “Love is friendship” (Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, 1998).
Anjali was in shocked because her and Rahul were really good friends and she started to think that Rahul did like her. She started to fall in love with Rahul but really, he was in love with Tina and Anjali was devastated with this so she decided to leave college because she could not bear to see the Rahul and Tina in love because she really loves Rahul but he takes her nothing more than a friend. This type of movie can be closely related would be the Ortigue’s and her team.
In conclusion, there is science behind the whole concept of love. It is not only involved with the heart and mind but the parts of the brain are also involved. Now that everyone knows the full definition of love and now everyone would think twice when they fall in love with someone. References:
Brownless, S. (1997). Can’t do without love. U.S. News & World Report, 122 (6), 58
This article talks about how science nowadays are related to love and how people react. Studies have shown that a certain chemical oxytocin plays a major role in the brain. The author also explains a certain study that was done on rodents and the results from that.
Epstein, R. (2010). How science can help you fall in love. Scientific American Mind 20(7), 26-33
This article explains to us how in a successful love relationship, science can play major role. The author conducted a lot of studies that would prove to us that science can help with relationships and how it can fix America’s poor relationship status.
Helmuth, L. (2000). Love on the brain. Science Now, 3
This article explains a specific case study that was done on students from a London. It tells us the specific brain areas that are highly activate when those students were in love.
Middleton, L. & Anderson, A. (2006). What is this thing called love? New Scientist 190(2549), 32-34
This article helps us understand whether science can help us understand love even more. Scientists are now finding certain chemicals in the brain that helps a person fall in love. It also explains to us how a person falls in love using that certain chemical.
Murphy, L. (2001). It’s all in your mind. Psychology Today, 34(5), 26
This article tells us specifically which areas in the brain are deeply effected when a person is in love. The author conducts a special case study and tell us future findings in how we should measure love.
Ortigue, S., Grafton, T.S., Demicheli-Bianchi, F. (2006). The power of love on the human brain. Social Neuroscience, 1 (20), 90-103.
This article tells us about the recent discovery of the brain and how it is related and how it reacts when a person is in love. It talks about two experiments that has be done by these authors and their findings from each of the experiments.
Rooks, J.P. (2009). The science of love. Skeptic, 15(1), 73-74
This article talks about how animal’s brain are somewhat related to the human’s brain. It also tells us what we can conclude from this finding.
The evolution of romance. (2007) Harvard Mental Health Letter, 23(9), 6-7
This article discusses the study that is done on romantic love. It uses a another study as a reference from H. E. Fischer and come to the fact that love is related to one of the brain systems and with that, it becomes much stronger.
Thorthon, E.K. & Carmody, P. D. (2010). Depression, love, happiness and the quantitative electroencephalography in a single case study. Biofeedback, 38 (1), 13-18. The authors of this article talk about how closely related emotions and how the brain functions are. They explain to use how different emotions (sad, happy, being in love) react in the brain by doing a case study and explaining to us the results and the conclusions founded by the authors.
Young, LJ. (2009). Being human: love: neuroscience reveals all. Nature, 457(7226), 148
This article talks about how the brain reacts differently in both men and women. The author describes how men are different compared to how women are different and also how their brain scans are different too.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 17 February 2017
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