The Nature of Love

  • Bates H
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Love is a wondrous state, deep, tender, and re-warding. Because of its intimate and personal na-ture it is regarded by some as an improper topic for experimental research. But, whatever our per-sonal feelings may be, our assigned mission as psy-chologists is to analyze all facets of human and animal behavior into their component variables. So far as love or affection is concerned, psycholo-gists have failed in this mission. The little we know about love does not transcend simple obser-vation, and the little we write about it has been written better by poets and novelists. But of greater concern is the fact that psychologists tend to give progressively less attention to a motive which pervades our entire lives. Psychologists, at least psychologists who write textbooks, not only show no interest in the origin and development of love or affection, but they seem to be unaware of its very existence. The apparent repression of love by modern psy-chologists stands in sharp contrast with the atti-tude taken by many famous and normal people. The word "love" has the highest reference fre-quency of any word cited in Bartlett's book of Familiar Quotations. It would appear that this emotion has long had a vast interest and fascina-tion for human beings, regardless of the attitude taken by psychologists; but the quotations cited, even by famous and normal people, have a mun-dane redundancy. These authors and authorities have stolen love from the child and infant and made it the exclusive property of the adolescent and adult. Thoughtful men, and probably all women, have speculated on the nature of love. From the de-velopmental point of view, the general plan is quite 1 Address of the President at the sixty-sixth Annual Con-vention of the American Psychological Association, Wash-ington, D, C., August 31, 1958. The researches reported in this paper were

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  • H E Bates

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