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The Formula for Love

Presents an excerpt of the article 'Adrenaline Makes the Heart Grow Fonder,' by Elaine Walster and Ellen Berscheid from 'Psychology Today' dated June 1971.

A frightened man is a potentially romantic man. So is an angry man, a jealousman, a rejected man, or a euphoric man. Anyone, in fact, who experiences the physical arousal that accompanies strong human emotion is a potentially romantic person in that he has fulfilled one of the two essential conditions for love.

To love passionately, a person must first be physically aroused, a condition manifested by palpitations of the heart, nervous tremor, flushing, and accelerated breathing. Once he is so aroused, all that remains is for him to identify this complex of feelings as passionate love. If he should meet an unusually desirable woman while he is in this state, he is likely to be more intensely drawn to her than he would be in normal circumstances.

That is not to say that passionate love can be induced easily in a laboratory. However, recent experiments have shown that physical arousal, as a precondition to love, can be so induced. In one study, J.W. Brehm and his associates led one of three groups of men to believe they would soon receive three "pretty stiff5' electrical shocks. (Frightening a person is a very good way to produce intense physiological arousal.) The experimenters introduced each of the men to a young girl and later asked how much each liked her. Those who were expecting the electric shock exhibited more liking for the girl than did a control group with whom the experimenters never discussed the possibility of shocks.

--from "Adrenaline Makes the Heart Grow Fonder" By Elaine Walster and Ellen Berscheid, June 1971.