Measurement of Love and Intimate Relations: Theories, Scales, and Applications for Love Development, Maintenance, and Dissolution

By Oliver C. S. Tzeng | Go to book overview

6
Folk Theory of Love and Intimate Relations

The purpose of this chapter is to illustrate a naturalistic research approach to the study of behavioral expressions of love elicited from a group of adults in a Midwestern community in the United States. The analysis and integration of subject responses result in the derivation of a folk (lay) theory of love for this subject sample. The components of this theory and their functional relationships with the theoretical constructs of other professional theories are also presented in this chapter.

One of the most incendiary and pacifying words in all languages is love, because it has different meanings with controversial connotations to different people. However, for the members of a certain societal institution (family, community, society, or ethnicity), the implicit meanings and behavioral expressions of love are usually homogeneous and can be studied as a scientific research topic in the social and behavioral sciences. There are two general approaches to the study of the contents and structures of love in each community. These approaches will generate two types of theories that can be described as professional theories and folk (lay) theories respectively.

As discussed in Chapter 3, many theories have been derived in the professional community to hypothesize the definitions, typologies, and functions of love. These theories are characterized as professional views of love, because various academic or clinical principles and methodologies are used to conceptualize the nature of love. When applied to the society in which love phenomena are described, these professional theories should contain all important functions of a scientific theory, as stipulated in Chapter 1. That is, the professional theories should be able, among other things, to explain different patterns of love formation, to specify appropriate (and inappropriate) ways of love expression, and to provide guidelines for improving faltering relationships. Further, as scientific study topics, these professional theories should be subjected to critical evaluation of their validity, generalizability, and utility.

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