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On falling in love in conformance with the romantic ideal

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Eighty-five subjects (single, married, and divorced) completed an anonymous questionnaire describing their attitudes toward, and experiences with, romantic love. Included in the questionnaire was a description of the romantic “ideal,” and subjects were asked to rate how closely their most and least intense experiences of love conformed to this paradigm case. Approximately equal numbers of subjects indicated that their most intense experience either did (N=34) or did not (N=33) conform closely to the romantic ideal. The conformity did not vary as a function of age, sex, or marital status. There was a small but significant (.31) correlation between favorable attitudes toward the romantic ideal and having an experience that conformed to that ideal. The circumstances most frequently mentioned as conducive to falling romantically in love were the appearance of the loved one and a chance meeting. The results are discussed in terms of the social role of romantic love.

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This research was supported, in part, by a grant (MH 22299) from the National Institute of Mental Health.

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Averill, J.R., Boothroyd, P. On falling in love in conformance with the romantic ideal. Motiv Emot 1, 235–247 (1977).

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