Review of the Week: 2/13/17

To celebrate Valentine's Day, this Review of the Week examines the psychology of love.

Cupid’s arrow: the course of love through time

Sternberg, Robert J. Cambridge, 1998
208p, 0521473209 $19.95

Author/editor of several books (and scores of scientific articles) on human intelligence, creativity, teaching, romantic love, and close relationships (e.g., The Triangle of Love, 1988; The Psychology of Love, ed. with Michael Barnes, CH, Sep’88), Sternberg presents his “triangular” theory of love and discusses current research on the psychology of love. After recounting the story of Cupid and Psyche, the author outlines his theory that love consists of three components: passion, intimacy, and decision/commitment. He describes how variations in the strength of these three components and the size and shape of the “triangle” produce a taxonomy of different kinds of love (for example, “companionate” love is intimacy and commitment with no passion). Sternberg illustrates his theory with perceptive vignettes from actual relationships. Part 2 consists of a brief discussion of love considered from evolutionary, cross-cultural, and literary perspectives. Sternberg follows this with a review of recent studies of the psychology of love organized into sections on the beginning, middle, and end of romantic relationships. A gifted storyteller, Sternberg provides marvelous translations of his (and others’) theories and research into compelling accounts of what love is all about, skillfully weaving a story text with scientific “hard data” that the reader absorbs without effort. Highly recommended for professional, academic, and general collections.

Summing Up: Highly Recommended

Reviewer: R. R. Cornelius, Vassar College
Readership Level: General Readers, Lower-division Undergraduates, Upper-division Undergraduates, Graduate Students, Researchers/Faculty, Two-Year Technical Program Students, Professionals/Practitioners
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – Psychology
Choice Issue: Mar 1999