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Marriage & Family Review
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Love Styles of Three Generations of Women
Felix Neto
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The Universidade do Porto, Portugal Published online: 12 Oct 2008.

To cite this article: Felix Neto (2001): Love Styles of Three Generations of Women, Marriage & Family Review, 33:4, 19-30 To link to this article:

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Portugal. Love styles were assessed by the 42-item Love Attitudes Scale (LAS). All rights reserved. Family. In particular. dependent love). science has become infatuated with love.] ABSTRACT. except with Pragma with grandmothers showing more practical love than mothers. Mania (possessive.asp?sku=J002 2001 by The Haworth Press. The six love styles examined were: Eros (passionate love).up. While research on interpersonal love is> Website: <http://www. and Agape (selfless love). However. 33(4) 2001 http://www. com> © 2001 by The Haworth Press. Pragma and Agape. Ludus (game-playing love). and their maternal grandmothers.haworthpressinc. 19 . and laypersons alike. This study investigated the love styles held by three generations: 48 female college students. mothers and grandmothers. Inc. Inc. Vol. P-4150 Porto. All rights reserved. as expected. their mothers.HaworthPress. Faculdade de Psicologia e de Ciencias da Educacao. Pragma (practical love). Address correspondence to: Felix Neto. Significant generational differences were found on four love styles: Eros. Storge (companionate love). After decades of neglect. [Article copies available KEYWORDS. love styles INTRODUCTION Love is one of those global concepts that has been considered by Umversldade do Porto. Marriage & Family Review. generations. in recent years there has been a Felix Neto is affiliated with the Universidade do Porto. ma do Campo Alegre. Results indicated little love styles similarity among generations.Love Styles of Three Generations of Women Felix Neto Downloaded by [Grace Torres] at 05:35 02 May 2013 for a fee from The Haworth Document Delivery Service: 1-800-HAWORTH. social scientists. there is a relative dearth of literature on the experience of love across generations. 1055. E-mail address: <getinfo@haworthpressinc. Portugal (E-mail: fneto@psi. don’t differ in the degree of agreement with the various love styles.

and commitment. Compounds of two of each of the primaries form the three secondary styles: Pragma (practical love). involving a short and intense relationship. Of concern in this research is how love orientations may change throughout the adult life cycle. 1970.20 MARRIAGE & FAMILY REVIEW major resurgence of interest within social psychology in the topic of love in general (e. 1986). and Storge (friendship-based love). Sternberg (1986) proposed a three-dimensional model of love involving passion. may be very different than that of a sixty-year-old. intimacy. & Kay. The primaries include: Eros (passionate. suggesting that a benefit given in response to a benefit received would be appropriate in an exchange relationship but not in a communal relationship where a benefit is given specifically to satisfy the other’s need. Hazan and Shaver (1987) extended Bowlby (1969) and Ainsworth’s (1985) attachment theory to adult romantic relationships.g. Hendrick and Hendrick (1986) have presented a conceptualization and set of procedures for measuring individual approaches to love relationships that builds on Lee’s (1973) colors-of-love model. Rubin. The work presented here employs a comprehensive six-dimensional model of love originally proposed by Lee (1973). for example.. 1974. Lee proposed a typology of six love styles. Sternberg. One result of this work has been the emergence of a number of theories or typologies of love. differentiated between exchange relationships (based on interpersonal economics) and communal love (based on altruistic motives). Berscheid & Walster. dependent love) and Agape (altruistic love). Early formulations by Hatfield and Walster (1978) distinguished passionate from companionate love: passionate love. Recent work on romantic love has focused on the multidimensional complexity of the phenomenon. Ludus (game-playing love). Dion & Dion. 1989. Mania (possessive. and also proposed a three-dimensional model. While there is a growing body of literature on romantic love. 1985. following a detailed interview study. How love is experienced by a twenty-year-old. and because love is essential to people’s survival and well-being. romantic love). Clark and Mills (1979). Because the process of love is integral to forming and continuing close relationships. THE LEE’S COLORS OF LOVE MODEL One way of conceptualizing love that has received attention over the years is a theory offered by Lee (1973). These are viewed as different but equally valid ways of loving. Downloaded by [Grace Torres] at 05:35 02 May 2013 . and companionate love involving a close and enduring relationship. with three styles as primary and three as secondary. it seems worthwhile to increase our understanding of how this phenomenon is experienced though one’s adult life. Wehher. Simmons. less is known about the styles of loving in different generations.

Lee’s typology of love styles referred to types of relationships rather than to types of people. Eros) and a different type in another (e. is quite willing to make sacrifices in the interest of the lover and may have conflict about sexual expression. concerns about the loss of the other. Storge is a more slowly developing friendship type of love. and hence feelings of jealousy and exclusiveness. whilst Hatfield and Walster’s (1978) passionate and companionate love represent Eros and Storge. Shared interests and a trust and acceptance acquired over time seem central to this love style. Ludus). Ludus represents the lover who thinks of love as a sophisticated game. thus.Felix Neto 21 Lee’s six types of love styles were based on an extensive literature review and an essentially qualitative analysis of intensive interviews with individuals across a wide age range and from different backgrounds.g. Hendrick and Hendrick (1986) therefore attempted to produce measurement instrument that would measure the six love styles validly and reliably. Although it was reported that a Gutman-Lingoes Smallest Space analysis produced six distinct love styles. Agape is the selfless love style. Mania is the love style characterized by intense emotional involvement. Clark and Mills’ (1979) communal love is exemplified by Agape. Pragma is the love style in which the suitability of the partner to one’s position and place in the community is central. The agapic lover seeks complete spiritual and emotional identification. For example. The pragmatic lover is looking for similarities of interests and background that are likely to make the other a good life partner. Eros represents the emotionally intense individual who is looking for a psychologically intimate and open relationship as well as a passionately expressive one. respectively. 1984) has Downloaded by [Grace Torres] at 05:35 02 May 2013 . The maniac lover often feels insecure in a relationship.g.. Hendrick. The erotic lover has strong ideas about the type of person she or he desires for a partner and attempts to achieve a close and intimate relationship when she or he finds that person.. none of the details of the analysis were reported. Foote & Slapion-Foote. is not interested in making a deep commitment to one person. Lee’s original research was based on qualitative analyses of interview data and so Lasswell and Lasswell (1976) developed a 50-item true-false quantitative measure of the love styles. and he considered it possible to be simultaneously one type in one relationship (e. The ‘Hendrick and Hendrick’s Love Attitudes Scale’ Hendrick and Hendrick (1986) considered Lee’s typology to be rich theoretically because of its multidimensionality and because it can encompass other less extensive theories of love. Their earlier research (Hendrick. She or he enjoys having multiple partners and.

and grandmothers. the current study explored the similarity of relationship attitudes. Six distinct factors were found. Recently it has been shown that the structure postulated by Lee could be applied across multiple cultures (Neto. this was not so for the primary styles which were not identifiable as independent factors. however.. 1992). their mothers. specifically love attitudes. First. High test-retest reliabilities (coefficients > 0. Past research on love across age has been limited in several ways. good internal consistency. 1994). Thus. and evidence of content validity were also reported with this revised instrument. accounting for over 40% of the total variance that matched Lee’s definitions of the six types of love. The sample. storge. Hendrick and Hendrick (1986) therefore produced a revised instrument consisting of 42 items and obtained a factor structure that was consistent with Lee’s typology. Mullet. Second. while paying less attention to some of the other components of love. provided a more complete database to assess the Downloaded by [Grace Torres] at 05:35 02 May 2013 . Factor analysis of the items. Items demonstrated satisfactory internal reliability and reasonable independence from each other when considered as additive scales. regardless of the fact that close relationships and love are important to people of all ages. The love styles previously identified among students in the United States were also identified among students in Portugal. 1993. Men and women did not differ on eros. provided only partial support for Lee’s typology. Although the secondary styles emerged as separate factors.70 for all scales). Present Work A question unanswered by previous research is whether young adult children and their parents and grandparents share similar attitudes about relationship characteristics. 2000). particularly in the context of the intact family. pragma. the majority of the research in this area has focused on differences in passion and its decline in the elderly population. and mania. held by adult children. especially about love. The factor structure of the Portuguese version of love styles emerged from a factor analysis of items taken from the original American version (Neto. it seems that researchers of love have prioritized the college student participants (Hendricks & Hendricks.22 MARRIAGE & FAMILY REVIEW made use of the Lasswell items using Likert rating-scale format. In Portugal men were found more ludic and agapic than women. The major purpose of the current study was to use the Love Attitudes Scale (LAS) to extend research on love styles over the entire life span by assessing the views of three generations of female family members. There has been limited attention paid to the influence of parental romantic relationships attitudes on children’s relationships attitudes. which included a broad age range. Deschamps et al.

Attitudinal influence on transmission is not necessarily a single process. especially in young adulthood. Thus. range = 19 to 26 years). with 5 indicating maximum disagreement. Participants responded on 5-point Likert scales. the love styles similarities and differences among young adults.81 (SD = 4. The participants were 144 subjects from 48 families. Hypothesis. Thus a second hypothesis was posited that daughters would differ from their mothers and grandmothers in their degree of agreement with the various love styles. The Portuguese version of this scale seems reliable and valid (Neto. Mania. Thus. parenthood. the mothers’ mean age was 46. we offered a third hypothesis–that mothers and grandmothers would not differ in the degree of agreement with the various love attitudes.. 1990). and the grandmothers’ mean age was 72.13. middle-aged adults.67. their mothers and maternal grandmothers. intrafamilial continuity may not become apparent until a child reaches adult status and encounters critical life stage transitions into adult institutions that were previously encountered by the parents. 1969). level of education. Measures Each subject completed a biographical questionnaire (e.81 (SD = 5. The second and third hypotheses were tested by assessing the mean differences via analyses of variance. This hypothesis was consistent with the lineage perspective of attitude transmission (Gecas & Seff. This produced six scales for each participant. 1992. and elderly adults of the selected families. such as marriage. Thus. Pragma. It was recognized that cohort influences might equal or exceed parental influences on children’s love attitudes (Gecas & Seff. and occupation (Strauss. 1986). range = 66 to 83 years). METHOD Subjects The subjects were female college students from the University of Porto. All parents were married at the time of the survey. mothers and grandmothers would show similarity of love attitudes. profession) and the Love Attitudes Scale (Hendrick and Hendrick. The first hypothesis was that daughters.g. 1990) and was tested by correlational methods.29. The 48 students’ mean age was 20. one for each style of loving (Eros. Storge. in this study. . age. were investigated. 1993).56 (SD = 1. A number of hypotheses were generated. gender. Ludus.Felix Neto 23 Downloaded by [Grace Torres] at 05:35 02 May 2013 relationship of generation to attitudes toward love. range = 40 to 56 years).

and Pragma (21. there were significant differences in endorsement of the different love styles. or other students. Storge (M = 16. It is hard to say exactly where friendship ends and love begins. Examples of the items are as follows: Eros: Downloaded by [Grace Torres] at 05:35 02 May 2013 Ludus: Storge: Pragma: Mania: Agape: My lover and I were attracted to each other immediately after we met. As can be seen from Table 1. and the students were asked not to discuss or compare their responses with their mothers.2) love styles and least endorsement of Ludus (M = 25. Means could vary from 7. I enjoy playing the “game of love” with a number of different partners. The lower the mean score the stronger the endorsement of the love style. The mean Love Attitudes Scale scores were obtained by summing the seven items on each subscale.0. If they have never been in love.001). Each student was given a set of questionnaires. Each love style score was the sum of the seven items that measured that style.24 MARRIAGE & FAMILY REVIEW Agape). 715) = 83.0). Sometimes I get so excited about being in love that I can’t sleep. F (5. The questionnaires were filled out at home. they were to answer in terms of what they thought their most likely responses could be. RESULTS Preliminary Analyses.5). I try to plan my life carefully before choosing a lover.5). p < . grandmothers. they were to respond with their most recent partner in mind.76.0).0 to 35. If they were not currently dating anyone. These reliabilities are similar to those reported by Neto (1992). Subjects in the present sample showed most endorsement of Agape (M = 15. Mania (M = 22. Descriptive statistics for the six love scales are summarized in Table 1.23. Subjects were advised to answer the questions with their current partner in mind. and Eros (M = 16. I would endure all things for the sake of my lover. . Procedure The students directly volunteered to participate in the study and to solicit the cooperation of their mothers and maternal grandmothers. indicates that love attitudes can be measured reliably by brief self-report questionnaires. The average reliability estimate (Cronbach alpha) of .7).

02) Ϫ.6 6.01 (Ϫ.01) Storge Ϫ.21 (. For practical love (Pragma).74 .60 .19 (.15) .01 (. and Mania.01 (.04) .2 25. Values not in parentheses are for mothers and children..05) .0 15. For passionate love (Eros) daughters and grandmothers showed modest similarity.01 ( Ϫ.06 (Ϫ.25*) Ϫ.07 (Ϫ. dependTABLE 1.76 .04} .09 (Ϫ.01) . reveals only significant correlations for Eros. . Descriptive Statistics for the Six Love Styles Measured by the Love Attitudes Scale Love style Eros Ludus Storge Pragma Mania Agape Mean 16.24*) .18 (.Felix Neto 25 Downloaded by [Grace Torres] at 05:35 02 May 2013 Familial Similarity of Love Styles.08) Agape Ϫ.04 (Ϫ .09) .16) Ludus Ϫ. and between students and grandmothers.28* (.15 (.07) Ϫ.7 5. Agape with Agape).7 22.06) .15) Ϫ.16) . Eros with Eros.01 (.5 5.25* (Ϫ.05. Correlations Between Parents’ and Children’s Scores on Love Styles Mothers and Grandmothers Children Eros Ludus Storge Pragma Mania Agape Eros Ϫ.7 6. Table 2 provides the Love Attitudes Scale correlations between students and mothers.08 (Ϫ.28*) Ϫ.10.09) Ϫ. For possessive.g.5 16.26* (Ϫ.08 (.06 (Ϫ.03) Ϫ.07) .3 4.15) Pragma Ϫ.11) .12 ( Ϫ.07) .89 TABLE 2.10) .08) .23* (.06) Note: Values in parentheses are for grandmothers and children.15 (.06 (.5 Reliability .03) Mania Ϫ.09) Ϫ.0 21.31** (Ϫ.09 (Ϫ.15) .08 (.01) .08) .82 .10 (Ϫ.12 (.05 (Ϫ.18 (.01 (Ϫ. Pragma.26*) Ϫ.04) Ϫ.13 (Ϫ.5 SD 5.27* (. Inspection for the diagonal (e.25* (Ϫ. Correlational analyses were conducted to examine the relationship among the three generations’ love styles.12) Ϫ.02 (.14) Ϫ.72 . * p < .05) Ϫ. the scores of daughters and mothers were significantly negatively correlated.18 (. ** p < .

Values not in parentheses are for mothers and children. A few off-diagonal correlations were also significant. their mothers and grandmothers.42** Ϫ. the scores of daughters and grandmothers were significantly negatively correlated. Thus daughters reported themselves less friendship-oriented than their mother and grandmothers.04 .12 Ϫ.12 Ludus Ϫ. For game-playing love. mothers and grandmothers showed similarity. A few off-diagonal correlations were also significant.12 Ϫ.6) with Scheffe tests indicating a significant higher score for students than for their mothers.10.14 .17 .16 Agape Ϫ. 143) = 9.35** Ϫ.26 MARRIAGE & FAMILY REVIEW ent love (Mania). Correlations Between Mothers’ and Grandmothers’ Scores on Love Styles Mothers Grandmothers Eros Eros Ludus Storge Pragma Mania Agape . There was a significant main effect of generation on Eros (F (2.02 Ϫ.22 Mania Ϫ. daughters’ altruistic love was significantly correlated with mothers’ passionate love. 143) = 32. Generational Differences.05 . There was also a main effect of generation on Storge (F (2.13 Ϫ. The third significant main effect was that of Pragma (F (2. Grandmothers did not differ from both mothers and daughters on Eros.02 Ϫ.09 Pragma Ϫ.13 . 143) = 4.28* Ϫ.10 .07 Downloaded by [Grace Torres] at 05:35 02 May 2013 Note: Values in parentheses are for grandmothers and children.05 . The foregoing analysis revealed significant main effects of generation on four of the six love styles.18 Ϫ.05 Ϫ.08 . * p < .05.15 .06 .5 .01 .24* Ϫ.06 .39** Ϫ. and daughters’ friendship love was positively correlated with grandmothers’ practical love. ** p < .08 Ϫ. .0) with Scheffe tests indicating a significantly higher score for mothers and grandmothers than for students.25* . For example. Inspection of the diagonal reveals only a significant correlation for Ludus.02 Ϫ. For example.04 . Table 4 presents mean LAS scores for the students.08 Ϫ. Table 3 provides the Love Attitudes Scale correlations between mothers and grandmothers. along with a one-way ANOVA determining the effect of generation on LAS scores. mothers’ practical love was positively correlated with grandmothers’ altruistic love.7) with Scheffe tests indicating that in this love style the three generations of women TABLE 3.14 Storge Ϫ.

0ab Note: The lower the mean.1 F = 10.8 18.7a 14. Within each column.0* 18. divorce. we expected to find family similarity.6* Ludus F = 1.5a 15. Thus the three generations of women did not share substantial similarity in most love attitudes.1 22. The goal of this study was to explore the relationship between love styles and variations in generations. Means and F Ratios for Each Love Style as a Function of Generation Generation N Eros F = 4.9 24. we expected a number of findings. More specifically. 143) = 10.9b Pragma Mania Agape F = 32. * p < . the greater the amount of a given love attitude..6b 17.5 25.8 26. to what extent are similarities and differences in love styles associated with differences in generation? Based on previous research and analysis of literature. First. Thus daughters reported themselves less altruistic than their mothers and grandmothers. the fourth significant main effect of generation was on Agape (F(2.9b 16. thus only partially supporting the first hypothesis.1b Downloaded by [Grace Torres] at 05:35 02 May 2013 Students Mothers Grandmothers 48 48 48 14.7* F = 1. four were diagonal in that daughters and grandmothers showed similarity in erotic love. The grandmothers were more pragmatic than mothers. Only seventeen of a possible 108 love attitude correlations were significant for daughters.3) with Scheffe tests indicating a significant higher score for mothers and grandmothers than for students.7a 20. Of these. and these more pragmatic than students. gay male. and lesbian).Felix Neto 27 TABLE 4.8b 13. .g. DISCUSSION The current study extended the research on attitudes toward love over the entire adult life span. Although it is important to explore parent-child relationship attitude similarity in all types of families (e. and dissimilarity in possessive love. parents and grandparents in intact families. were significantly different.6a 17.1 22.7c 21. and mother and grandmothers showed similarity in game-playing love. means with no subscripts in common differed at the .3 Storge F = 9. remarried. and grandmothers. our focus was on love attitudes held by children. It should also be noted that there was no significant main effect of generation on Ludus and Mania.3* 26. daughters and mothers showed dissimilarity in practical love.05.05 level by the Multiple Range Test.5b 13. Finally. mothers.

1993). Such a report indicates that Eros may not be a fragile and ephemeral experience. the older the generation. Thus Agape is guided more by the head than by the heart. Thus the second and third hypotheses were largely supported. The present study does indicate that erotic love orientation can be experienced just as intensely by elderly adults as by middle-aged adults and young adults. This may be surprising given that passion is consistently described as less important in one’s older years. Most developmental personality theories suggest that adults keep a sense of continuity throughout time (Clair. 328). Storge involves slowly developing relationships based on friendship. the score of the three generations were significantly different on Pragma. with mothers and grandmothers being higher on these love styles than students. While aging can affect one’s physical health and therefore sexual expression.g. Storge. and one’s thoughts about love and relationships ” (Reeder.28 MARRIAGE & FAMILY REVIEW The effect of generation was significant on Eros. but it is life’s events. Three of the biggest events in adult life–marriage. they experience intense emotions (without the demanding. and death–would likely impact one’s experiences of love. but also includes emotion. excitement and sexual feelings. communication. students emphasize more the physical side of love including an ideal of physical beauty. In keeping with the Erotic style. p. divorce. which challenge the individual to grow. a spouse dies). Pragma and Agape. It appears that aging itself does not cause change in human perception and experience. & Yoel. a study that Downloaded by [Grace Torres] at 05:35 02 May 2013 . grandmothers don’t differ from their daughters and granddaughters on the Erotic style. This more companionate love is also seen in Agape but here it is taken to extremes of altruism and selflessness. “It is important to remember that such passion is more than just physical touch. Karp.. This continuity is expected to remain unless otherwise disrupted by external factors (e. it does not necessarily affect one’s erotic style. possessive quality of mania) and they are more self-confident in their relationships than their mothers. rather than being a phenomenon largely confined to the youthful years. This finding suggests that erotic style encompasses the life span. However. Finally. The finding that love styles are experienced in a relatively stable manner for mothers and grandmothers is consistent with much of the literature on human development. The lover considers it as a duty to love. even when no loving feelings are present. with grandmothers appearing even more pragmatic than mothers. creativity. and emphasis on sharing activities and interest but a de-emphasis on emotion. Worthy of note is that the only love style that seemed to differentiate mothers and grandmothers was Pragma. This phenomenon may be a result of society’s limiting view of sexuality as solely the act of intercourse. 1996. the greater the Pragmatic style. If this is so. as has been previously suggested. Also the effect of generation was significant on Storge and Agape.

M. 1. J. so no definitive claim can be made that attitudes to love change or do not change over time. & Walster. 511-524. (1974). although the love style questionnaire has been shown to have good reliability and validity it is a self-report instrument and therefore might be susceptible to social desirability bias. (1985). (1978). S. New York: Basic Books. Berscheid. This study possesses some limitations that deserve attention. M. In P. CA: Sage. W. A. Personality. Thomas Publisher. this analysis focused on white. but rather that different cross-sections of age (age cohorts) experience some parts of love differently.. Patterns of attachment. 941-958. Vol. Shaver (Ed. upper-middle class. & Dion. J. P. Latham. and most important. would yield probably more differences across these two generations in love styles. New York: Academic Press. C. & Shaver. Experiencing in the life cycle: A social psychology of aging (2nd Ed. Clinical Psychologist. MA: University Press of America. Karp. Hustoll (Ed. 12-24. 6. Hazan. Future research would need to include these issues as well. There is relatively little research on the relationships between aging and the experience of romantic love. In T. Hatfield. Longitudinal studies that follow individual or groups’ development over time may be beneficial to broaden this area of study. Interpersonal attraction in exchange and communal relationships. (1987). (1993). E. 38. M. E. V. Review of personality and social psychology. (1979). & Yoel. 209230. Third. REFERENCES Ainsworth. G. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. & Seff. Second.. 335-381). Bowlby. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. and social classes. Families and adolescents: A review of the 1980s. D. Clair. First. Clearly it fails to address the concerns of different races.). Romantic love conceptualized as an attachment process. is the small sample size. A new look at love. it should be noted that this study was conducted cross-sectionally. Investigating the experience of older populations is important as persons are living longer lives. To understand more about love and the aging process. gender. & Mills. Journal of Marriage and the Family. (1990). W.. E.Felix Neto 29 Downloaded by [Grace Torres] at 05:35 02 May 2013 included divorcees and widowers rather than a sample of all mothers and grandmothers who defined themselves as in-love. 52. Dion. future research should investigate how different age groups similarly and differently experience romantic love. (1969) Attachment and loss vol. Fourth. S.. 37.. The foregoing analysis needs to be tested using research designs that evaluate relationships in more depth and detail. Foundations of interpersonal attraction (pp. . 27-29. Clark. pp. S. ethnicities. 52. Beverly Hills.. & Walster. Illinois: Charles C.). and the phenomenology of romantic love. A little bit about love.). K. A. Gecas. J. D. (1985). K.

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