Researchers from Aalto University in Finland have crafted a fascinating map of the human body that highlights where and how different forms of love are felt. They did this by surveying hundreds of people about their experiences with 27 unique types of love, including romantic love, sexual love, love for friends, nature, and even self-love.
Participants were asked to describe where in their bodies they felt these different types of love and how intense those feelings were. The study, published in Philosophical Psychology, revealed that these forms of love exist on a spectrum, ranging from weaker to stronger. Surprisingly, the strongest forms of love were felt more extensively throughout the body. Notably, most of the responses came from young women in higher education.
Philosopher Parttyli Rinne, who led the study, noted that love associated with close relationships was the most strongly experienced. Participants used colors to shade in a human outline to show where they felt each type of love and also described the physical and mental sensations associated with it. They even evaluated how pleasant these feelings were and explored the link between love and touch. Participants also rated the level of intimacy associated with each type of love.
Rinne explained, “Love between individuals can be divided into sexual and non-sexual. The types of love that are closely related often have a sexual or romantic dimension.” While all types were strongly felt in the head, their intensity varied throughout the rest of the body.
Interestingly, there was a strong connection between the physical and mental intensity of the emotion and how pleasant it felt. The more intensely a type of love was felt in the body, the more it was felt in the mind, and the more pleasant it was.
Rinne pointed out that there are cultural differences in how we experience love, and the demographics of the study group influenced their experiences. In a highly religious community, love for God might be the most intensely felt love, while parents in a relationship may feel the strongest love for their children.
This intriguing study provides us with a fresh perspective on the complex emotions of love and how they are experienced in our bodies and minds. It also highlights the influence of culture and life circumstances on our perceptions of love.