Can you measure love? Robert Sternberg thinks so.
Early clinical perspectives on love can be found in the works of Freud and Maslow. But scientific approaches have looked at the many dimensions of love in the last few decades.
One popular theory is the Triangular Theory of Love presented by Robert J. Sternberg. As the name implies, there are three constructs in this theory of interpersonal love: Intimacy, passion, and commitment/decision (see Sternberg, 1986, for an explanation). Sternberg referred to each with a "temperature" rating from hot to cool--see the parentheses below.
Intimacy refers to lovers’ emotional investment in their relationship (feeling close, connected, bonded, a measure of "warmth").
Passion refers to lovers’ motivational involvement in their relationship (romance, attraction, sex, a measure of "hot").
Commitment/decision refer to lovers’ thoughts about their relationship in terms of decision (I love…) and commitment to the long-term relationship (a measure of "cool").
STERNBERG’S TRIANGULAR LOVE SCALE (TLS or STLS)
The scale has 45-items, which are rated on a 9-point scale. The end points are 1 = Not at all and 9 = Extremely. The midpoint label of 5 = Moderately. The other numbers do not have text labels. Each of the three dimensions (intimacy, passion, commitment/decision) include 15 items.
Following are examples (I will post a link to the full scale below).
______ 1. I am actively supportive of ____________’s well-being.
______ 2. I have a warm relationship with ____________.
______ 18. My relationship with ____________ is very romantic.
______ 19. I find ____________ to be very personally attractive.
______ 31. I know that I care about ____________.
______ 32. I am committed to maintaining my relationship with ____________.
Educators, researchers, and students may want to add a love scale to their survey projects.
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Reliability and Validity
The values reported in the 1997 article indicate high reliability values in the .80s and .90s. Factor analyses supported the three-part theory. Validity values were also favorable. For example, Sternberg compared his scale to the Rubin Scales.
Links to the full scale (I do not gaurantee these external links work). If they do not work, try using a search engine to find the Sternberg Triangular Theory of Love scale.
Clinicians may want to use some or all of the items in their counseling practice.
Applied Statistics: Concepts for Counselors
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Sternberg, R. J. (1986). A triangular theory of love. Psychological Review, 93, 119-135.
Sternberg, R. J. (1997). Construct validation of a triangular love scale. European Journal of Social Psychology, 27, 313-335.
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