Professor Timothy J. Loving of Purdue University specializes in research about loving. His web site explains:
Dr. Loving is primarily interested in the relationship support process. Specifically, he investigates the reasons for, and consequences of, romantically involved individuals’ conversations with their social network members about the romantic relationship.
One of his fairly recent studies is:
“I do…do you? Dependence and biological sex moderate daters’ cortisol responses when accommodating a partner’s thoughts about marriage,” Elizabeth A. Schoenfeld, Timothy J. Loving, International Journal of Psychophysiology, epub July 15, 2012. (Thanks to Neil Martin for bringing this to our attention.) The authors explain:
“We examined how daters’ levels of relationship dependence interact with men’s and women’s degree of accommodation during a likelihood of marriage discussion to predict cortisol levels at the conclusion of the discussion. Upon arriving at the laboratory, couple members were separated and asked to graph their perceived likelihood of one day marrying each other. Couples were reunited and instructed to create a joint graph depicting their agreed-upon chance of marriage. For the majority of couples, negotiating their likelihood of marriage required one or both partners to accommodate each other’s presumed likelihood of marriage. Multilevel analyses revealed a significant Dependence × Accommodation × Sex interaction. For women who increased their likelihood of marriage, feelings of dependence predicted heightened levels of cortisol relative to baseline; we suggest such a response is indicative of eustress. Among men, those who accommodated by decreasing their likelihood of marriage experienced significantly lower levels of cortisol to the extent that they were less dependent on their partners.”
BONUS (unrelated): Trickey and Hyde on the dark side