Americans Agree on What Makes People Feel Loved

Cultural consensus and individual differences in felt love.


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According to a new study, people in the U.S to a great extent agree about what influences them to feel adored, going to a general accord that it might be little motions that issue most. Most small- non-romantic gestures topped the list of what makes people feel loved.

Saeideh Heshmati, a postdoctoral research scholar at gestures.”

Scientists employed 495 American adults to answer a questionnaire about whether they thought most people would feel loved in 60 different scenarios. The situations included positive actions, like being greeted by a pet; neutral scenarios, like feeling close to nature; and negative situations, like someone acting possessive.

Heshmati reported, “We found that behavioral actions rather than purely verbal expressions — triggered more consensus as indicators of love. For example, more people agreed that a child snuggling with them was more loving than someone simply saying, ‘I love you’.”

“You might think they would score on the same level, but people were more in agreement about loving actions, where there’s more authenticity perhaps, instead of a person just saying something.”

Scientists then analyzed gathered data with a cultural consensus model to measure the beliefs of a culture. While members differ on a few things, still, there was a close even split, for instance, on whether ‘somebody giving you positive input on the Web’ was adoring or not, there were many examples where the members concurred.

Most participants reported behaviors that could be seen as controlling were ranked among the least loving actions.

Heshmati said, “In American culture, it seems that controlling or possessive behaviors are the ones people do not feel loved by. If someone wants to know where you are always or acts controlling, those actions are not loving to us. This could be a cultural difference, though. There’s research showing that in more communal societies, these types of controlling behaviors may be seen as affection. But here in America, we don’t see it as loving.”

“Men tended to know less about what the majority of the American culture deems loving. It could be because earlier research has shown that men tend to think about the concept of love differently than women. Additionally, people in a relationship and people with agreeable or neurotic personality traits tended to know more about the cultural consensus.”

“Even though the results may reflect how the American culture, in general, feels about love, individuals still can and do have their own personal feelings about what makes them feel loved.”


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