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The flavours of love: A cross-cultural lexical analysis



Linguists have often remarked upon the polysemous nature of love, whereby the term encompasses a wide diversity of emotional relationships. Several typologies have been constructed to account for this diversity. However, these tend to be restricted in scope, and fail to fully represent the range of experiences signified by the term ‘love’ in discourse. In the interest of generating an expanded typology of love, encompassing its varied forms, an enquiry was conducted into relevant concepts found across the world's cultures, focusing on so-called untranslatable words. Through a quasi-systematic search of published and internet sources, 609 relevant words were identified. These were organised through a version of grounded theory into 14 categories, representing 14 different forms or ‘flavours’ of love. The result is an expanded theoretical treatment of love, allowing us to better appreciate the nuances of this most cherished and yet polysemous of concepts.
The flavours of love: A cross-cultural lexical analysis
Dr. Tim Lomas, University of East London, School of Psychology,
Linguists have often remarked upon the polysemous nature of love, whereby the term
encompasses a wide diversity of emotional relationships. Several typologies have been
constructed to account for this diversity. However, these tend to be restricted in scope, and
fail to represent the range of experiences signified by the term ‘love’ in discourse. In the
interest of generating an expanded typology of love, encompassing its varied forms, an
enquiry was conducted into relevant concepts found across the world’s cultures, focusing on
so-called untranslatable words. Through a quasi-systematic search of published and internet
sources, 609 relevant words were identified. These were organised through a version of
grounded theory into 14 categories, representing 14 different types of love. The result is an
expanded theoretical treatment of love, allowing us to better appreciate the nuances of this
most cherished and yet polysemous of concepts.
Keywords: love; linguistics; theory; typology; cross-cultural
Few experiences are as cherished as love, with surveys consistently reporting it to be among
the most sought-after and valorised of human emotions (Wilkins & Gareis, 2006). At the
same time though, few concepts are as contested, with the label encompassing a vast range of
phenomena spanning diverse spectra of intensity, valence, and temporal duration, and being
used in relation to a panoply of relationships, objects and experiences. Indeed, Murstein
(1988, p.33) described love vividly as “an AustroHungarian Empire uniting all sorts of
feelings, behaviors, and attitudes, sometimes having little in common.” As such, while most
words are polysemous, linguists suggest that love is “polysemous in the extreme,” as
Berscheid (2010, p.6) puts it.
Given its polysemous nature, scholars have attempted to create theoretical typologies
of different forms of love. One early and particularly influential effort was by John Lee
(1973, 1977), who drew on distinctions elucidated in the classical age to identify six ‘styles’
of loving. (Five of these types were adapted from classical Greek, while the sixth, ludus, is
Latinate.) Lee suggested there were three ‘primary’ forms of love: érōs (romantic,
passionate), ludus (flirtatious, playful), and storgē (filial, fraternal, companionate). By pairing
these, three further types arose from the permutations: prâgma (rational, sensible a
combination of ludus and storgē), mania (possessive, dependent a combination of érōs and
ludus), and agápē (charitable, selfless a combination of érōs and storgē). Lee’s typology
subsequently received experimental validation, particularly from Hendrick and Hendrick
(1986), who devised a 42-item self-report scale and corroborated the six factor structure
through factor analysis. Further work then sought to elucidate patterns of association between
the types and other factors, For instance, exploring personality attributes, Mallandain and
Davies (1994) reported that self-esteem was positively correlated with érōs, and negatively
with mania, storgē and agápē. Conversely, emotionality and impulsivity were both positively
linked to mania and ludus, while emotionality was negatively associated with érōs.
Around the same time, an alternative theoretically-derived typology was developed by
Robert Sternberg (1986). His ‘triangular’ theory of love suggested it arises from the presence
and interaction of three principle components: intimacy, passion, and decision/commitment.
Their permutations then give rise to seven types of love: liking (intimacy alone); infatuated
love (passion alone); empty love (commitment alone); romantic love (intimacy and passion);
companionate love (intimacy and commitment); fatuous love (passion and commitment); and
consummate love (all three). As with Lee (1977), Sternberg also developed his model into a
psychometric scale, for which he obtained a measure of factor analytic validation. Likewise,
there were empirical efforts to link his types of love with other psychological processes and
outcomes, such as personality. For instance, examining the model’s relationship to Costa and
McCrae’s (1992) 5-factor model, Engel, Olson, and Patrick (2002) found that of all the five
factors, conscientiousness was perhaps surprisingly the strongest predictor of love (for
both passion and intimacy in males, and for commitment in females), while factors such as
agreeableness appeared to have no particular relation. (The authors speculated that this may
be because conscientiousness is associated with people having the drive and skill to ‘work at’
relationships, which may be a precondition of lasting love.)
However, given that the two models do not totally overlap, arguably each is
somewhat incomplete or partial. It would appear that the theories only have one definite
primary element in common, where Sternberg’s (1986) passion component can perhaps be
equated with Lee’s (1977) notion of érōs. Beyond this, there are some close parallels; for
instance, Sternberg’s primary component of commitment can possibly but incompletely be
equated with Lee’s primary type of storgē, and perhaps also with the secondary type of
prâgma. Then there are elements that appear specific to one model only: Sternberg’s primary
component of intimacy does not map easily or exclusively on to any of Lee’s styles, whereas
Sternberg does not view ludus and prâgma as types of love (Shaver & Hazan, 1988).
However, one could further argue that, even taking the two models together, these do not
exhaust the polysemous nature of love. In particular, both models tend to mainly depict
different varieties of romantic relationships, i.e., between two people who identify as being
‘partners.’ There are therefore many different uses of the word love that are not represented
by these models.
For instance, a person might speak of their love for their country, or swimming, or a
Mozart symphony, or ice cream, or their cat, and so on. These types of love are an awkward
presence in the context of the models above, where it becomes necessary to either, (a) deny
that these forms strictly constitute love per se, or (b) stretch the models uneasily so that their
romantically-inclined styles of love extend into unusual areas. An example of the former is
work around brand loyalty by Shimp and Madden (1988), who adapted Sternberg’s (1986)
work to formulate a conceptual model of ‘consumerobject relationships,’ in which
Sternberg’s components are reconfigured as liking, yearning, and decision/commitment. In a
similar consumer context, a case of (b) can be found in Whang, Allen, Sahoury, and Zhang
(2004), who directly apply Lee’s (1977) components to a motorcycle, suggesting that bikers
genuinely feel érōs, mania and agápē in relation to it. However, without denying the value
and validity of such studies, they appear to be straining to make the data the real-world
phenomena fit the theory.
Part of the problem stems from the fact that both Lee (1977) and Sternberg (1986)
formulated their models on the basis of only three primary components. This necessarily
limits the permutations that can be derived to six or seven (depending on whether one allows
a permutation of all three, as Sternberg does). However, there is no a priori reason that love
should only comprise three such components. Indeed, as this paper will show, it is possible to
identify at least three further candidates that merit the status of ‘primary’ components: care;
connection; and appreciation. These could be considered primary in that their presence alone
in the absence of Lee’s or Sternberg’s primary components warrant ‘legitimate’ uses of
the word love. For instance, I may experience a surge of compassionate yet abstract love
towards humanity ‘in general. This love is not characterised by any of Sternberg’s trio of
passion, intimacy or commitment, nor Lee’s trio of érōs, ludus and storgē, but rather is an
expression of care. Likewise, one might love a certain novelist due to a feeling of shared
sensibilities, or love a possession a painting, say based on its aesthetic properties. Neither
example requires Lee’s or Sternberg’s primary components, but instead involve connection
and appreciation respectively. All these cases are genuine and indeed familiar examples of
the way ‘love’ gets used in common discourse; as such, any comprehensive theory of love
ought to be able to accommodate these. To this end, this paper seeks to develop an expanded
taxonomy of love, doing so through the innovative device of exploring ‘untranslatable
words, as the next section outlines.
Untranslatable words
This paper draws on recent work by Lomas (2016), who is developing a lexicography of
untranslatable words. While untranslatability is a contested phenomenon, it essentially refers
to a word that appears to lack an exact equivalent in a given other language (in the present
case, English). The interest in such words is manifold.
First, they can assist in understanding other cultures, offering insights into their
values, conceptualisations, traditions, and ways of being (Wierzbicka, 1999). The theoretical
context here is the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis developed by Sapir (1929) and Whorf (1940)
which holds that language influences how people experience, understand, and perceive the
world. The stronger version of this hypothesis is linguistic determinism, whereby language
inextricably constitutes thought. By contrast, the milder version simply asserts that language
shapes thought and experience. In relation to untranslatable words, the stronger deterministic
view holds that only people enmeshed within the culture that produced a given word can truly
understand or experience the phenomenon that the word refers to. Conversely, the milder
relativistic perspective suggests that such words are to an extent accessible to people outside
the culture, holding some potential universal relevance.
This latter point highlights a second element of interest regarding untranslatable
words. Beyond just being informative vis-à-vis the culture that created them, such words can
enrich other lexicons. This phenomenon of cultures ‘borrowing’ words is central to language
development. Indeed, of the more than 600,000 lexemes in the Oxford English Dictionary,
the percentage of borrowed words is estimated to be as high as 41% (Tadmor, 2009). Such
borrowings are known as ‘loanwords,’ although more specific terminology has also been
developed to reflect varying levels of assimilation into the host language. In fact, we can see
this very process at work in Lee’s (1977) typology, where he retained the classical words in
their original form, rather than seeking an approximate English equivalent (as Sternberg
sought to).
Of particular interest here is why words are borrowed. Haspelmath (2009) identifies
two main reasons: core versus cultural borrowings. Core borrowings are when a loanword
replicates a word that already exists (i.e., with a similar meaning) in the recipient language.
The tends to happen for sociolinguistic reasons, e.g., cultural capital associated with using
foreign words (Blank, 1999). This type of borrowing is not of concern here. However, the
second category of cultural borrowing is central. Haspelmath refers to these as ‘loanwords by
necessity,’ where the recipient language lacks its own word for a particular referent. Thus, the
loanword is used for pragmatic reasons: it is cognitive and socially useful, allowing speakers
to articulate concepts they had previously been unable to. In Lehrer’s (1974, p.105)
terminology, such words fill ‘semantic gaps,’ i.e., “the lack of a convenient word to express
what [one] wants to speak about. It is such semantic gaps that makes a word untranslatable,
suggesting the existence of phenomena that have been overlooked or undervalued by one’s
own culture, but which another culture has noticed, identified and labelled.
Thus, a central premise of Lomas’ (2016) lexicography is that such words can enrich
the English lexicon, and moreover enhance the nomological network in psychology. There
are numerous reasons why that would be desirable, most notably the critique that academic
psychology tends to be Western-centric (Becker & Marecek, 2008; Lomas, 2015a). As a
result, one could argue that the current nomological network in psychology is incomplete,
having been largely founded upon concepts that happen to have been identified in English.
The aim of the lexicography is therefore to augment this network with constructs which have
not yet been identified, as signalled by the existence of an untranslatable word. Clearly, there
is a wide range of phenomena that could potentially be of interest. As such, to narrow down
the focus of the lexicography to a manageable area of enquiry, its focus is on wellbeing
specifically. A key aspect of this love, which constitutes one of the six core thematic
categories in the lexicography. (The other five are positive emotions (Lomas, in press c),
ambivalent emotions (Lomas, in press a), spirituality (Lomas, in press b), prosociality, and
character development.) Thus, the current paper aims to provide a more comprehensive
understanding of this topic through the study of relevant untranslatable words.
In order to develop a more extensive typology of forms of love, following the example of
Lomas (2016), a quasi-systematic review of untranslatable words pertaining to love was
undertaken. As per the original paper, it is quasi-systematic in that there was insufficient
source material in academic journals, meaning that a conventional systematic review,
utilising standard academic databases, was not feasible. The review involved several stages.
The first stage involved searching for relevant words. This stage featured two main
search strategies. First, 30 websites and blogs devoted to untranslatable words were explored.
These were located by entering “untranslatable words” into google, and picking the first 30
such websites and/or blogs. Examining these, any word pertaining to love was selected, using
love in an expansive sense to incorporate diverse spectra of intensity, valence, and temporal
duration, and in relation to a wide variety of relationships, objects and phenomena. This
search strategy generated 97 words. Second, there was a process of searching google one
language at a time. This involved entering “_____ concept of” and “love” into the search
engine, with a different language in the underlined space each time. Proceeding through the
first ten pages for each search, there was an effort to identify words relating to love that were
presented as being unique to a particular culture. This generated a further 512 words, mainly
because of a vast number of constructs created often as recent neologisms via the prefix
‘philo-’ or the suffix ‘-philia’ (with one website alone featuring 457 such words). As a result,
609 potentially relevant terms were located. However, around three-quarters of these were the
various ‘philo-/-philia derived terms. While these were not discounted, they were not
prioritised, since it is theoretically possible to construct such terms with respect to any
phenomenon. Moreover, in contemporary usage, many philia words are used to delineate
unusual or deviant sexual proclivities, which is tangential to the purposes of this paper.
Having compiled a list of words, they and their descriptions were checked for
accuracy by consulting online dictionaries, as well as peer-reviewed academic sources (if
such were available for a given word). The words were then analysed using grounded theory
(GT) (Strauss & Corbin, 1998), a qualitative methodology which allows theory to emerge
inductively from the data. GT involves three main stages: open coding, axial coding, and
selective coding. First, open coding involves examining the data which in this study was the
list of words for emergent themes. As noted above, priority was given to the 152 words
which were not a type of ‘philo-/-philia.’ The words were examined carefully for their
thematic content. The next stage was axial coding, in which the words were grouped together
into categories based on their thematic similarity. Here, 14 separate categories 14 types or
‘flavours’ of love were identified, as outlined below. (The use of the term ‘flavours’ is to
avoid the implication that a given relationship necessarily just constitutes one of these types
exclusively. It is possible that a romantic partnership, say, might be a blend of multiple
flavours, and moreover that this mix may change dynamically over time.) For the purposes of
consistency, each category was labelled using one of the Greek words placed it. The final GT
stage is selective coding, in which a single core category is identified, which in this case was
love. Attempts are then made to elucidate how the main categories relate to this core
category, thus telling a narrative which makes sense of the data. The 14 categories (or ‘types’
or ‘flavours’) are introduced in turn below, including a sample of the words that helped shape
the category.
The first three categories pertain to love not oriented towards people per se, but towards other
phenomena. This in itself distinguishes the approach here from Lee (1977) and Sternberg
(1986), who restricted themselves to love of people. Obviously, it is possible to love, or to be
drawn towards, a bewildering array of non-human phenomena, as attested to by the many
hundreds of words coined using the philia prefix, from ablutophilia (relating to bathing) to
zoophilia (relating to animals). However, it was possible to group these phenomena into three
main forms experiences, objects, and places which thus constitute the first three
categories outlined below. The remaining 11 categories depict forms of love relating to other
people, featuring the six types identified by Lee, together with five additional types.
Meraki: Experiential love
The first ‘non-personal’ category is a love of activities and experiences. This is a catch-all
category for a deep fondness for any type of action or endeavour, from ambulophilia (love of
walking) to gephyrophilia (love of crossing bridges). It should right away be emphasised that
in classical Greece, philia did not signify anything sexual per se, as indeed neither does it
necessarily today (as per, for instance, Francophilia, a love or admiration for France). The
term selected to represent this all-encompassing class of experiences is the Greek verb (and
sometime adverb) meraki. This could be loosely translated as ardour, specifically with respect
to one’s own actions and creations. As a verb, meraki can express desire or longing for a
specific activity, whereas as an adverb, one might undertake a task with a spirit of ardour,
care and love. Besides the various philias that fall within the ambit of this term, other words
helped shape this category. Some capture a passion and zest for life generally, including the
Spanish nouns duende and vivencia, and the French phrase joie de vivre, with the latter an
excellent example of an untranslatable phrase that has already been imported into English.
Other words denote appreciation or fondness for specific activities. For instance, numerous
words extoll the virtue of savouring aspects of nature, such as the Japanese noun shinrin-yoku
which refers to the therapeutic act of ‘bathing’ in the quietude of a forest (figuratively and/or
Érōs: Aesthetic love
The second non-personal category pertains to a love of objects, from physical items (e.g., a
work of art) to abstract concepts (as reflected in philosophy, literally the love of wisdom). As
with meraki, this category encompasses a wide range of philias. This time though, the love is
for the ‘object,’ rather than the experience of engaging with it. This is the type of affection
alluded to in the aforementioned research exploring love for consumer brands (Albert,
Merunka, & Valette-Florence, 2008). Selecting an apposite Greek term to represent this form
of love was tricky, due to ambiguities and shifts in the meaning of terms over time and across
contexts. Ultimately, érōs was selected, though not without reservations. In classical usage,
the term tended to denote desire, often but not exclusively for people. Moreover, it did not
specify sexual desire, as it frequently tends to today (hence the reservation over its selection).
Rather, in the writings of Plato and others, it was more commonly invoked in the context of
aesthetic appreciation of beauty, in which one loves an object because it partakes in the
perfection of the divine Forms/Ideas. As Plato writes in Phaedrus (249E): “he who loves the
beautiful is called a lover because he partakes of it (cited in Hofstadter & Kuhns, 2009,
p.61). Thus, érōs is used here to capture a strong appreciation or yearning for non-personal
phenomena, with sexual desire instead represented by epithymia below.
Chōros: Rooted love
The third ‘non-personal’ category is love of particular places, and especially the feeling of
being rooted in such places. One might regard this as a potent combination of meraki and
érōs, in that one might love a place due to a combination of the ‘objects’ (including people)
and experiences associated with it. The word selected for this category is chōros, one of two
main words used in classical Greece to refer to a place, alongside topos. As elucidated by
Walter (1988, p.120), whereas topos generally referred to the layout of a place, writers such
as Ptolemy (90-168 CE) would use chōros signify its quality, and moreover the affection and
significance attached to it. Sometimes such affection would be denoted through the philia
suffix (i.e., chōrophilia), but this sense was retained when the suffix was omitted, such that a
sacred place might be termed a chora. In the present analysis, this category was formed
through the identification of various conceptually similar words all valued in their
respective cultures that describe a deep, heartfelt connection to certain locales, particularly
one’s homeland. These include toska, hiraeth, and saudade, which articulate a complex sense
of belonging and/or yearning that are specifically tied to Russia, Wales, and Portugal/Brazil
respectively (Wierzbicka, 1999). For instance Coupland, Bishop, and Garrett (2003, p.164)
define hiraeth as “a Welsh cultural longing for Wales,” and discuss how it is intimately
connected to feelings around cultural heritage and national identity. Not all relevant words
pertain to one’s homeland though; for instance, German has Fernweh and Wanderlust to
depict a desire to travel to, or the “call of,” distant places (Gabriel, 2004, p.155).
Philia: Friendly love
Turning to the first form of love directly specifically towards people, there is the ‘Platonic’
love that defines close friendship, denoted here by the label philia. Of course, as has been
noted already, philia is a contested, polysemous term, used in multiple ways. In classical
Greece, it tended to depict fondness, appreciation and loyalty in contrast to the passionate
desire and yearning of érōs which might not only be bestowed upon friends, but also one’s
family, job, community and country (Hofstadter & Kuhns, 2009). By contrast, in
contemporary usage, as a suffix it is sometimes (though by no means always) used to
represent sexual desire. However, its selection here is guided by its usage in classical Greece,
particularly Aristotle’s emphasis on friendship. This is exemplified by his description of
‘things that cause friendship’ in Rhetoric as being; “doing kindnesses; doing them unasked;
and not proclaiming the fact when they are done (Aristotle, 1954, II. 4). Nestled within this
category are various other words which pertain to close, affectionate friendship. For instance,
Greek also includes the derivation philotimo, a culture-defining characteristic of respecting
and honouring one’s friends. Similarly, friendships imbued with Platonic love are captured by
terms like cariño and confianza in Spanish.
Philautia: Self love
There is one form of philia which does warrant its own category, since it is not a love of
others, nor of experiences, objects or places. Rather, it is the unique phenomenon of loving
oneself. As with the three non-personal types of love above, this does not sit easily within
Sternberg’s (1986) conceptual triad of intimacy, passion and commitment. Rather, we are
concerned here with various positive qualities prefixed by the term self, including -esteem, -
compassion, -regard, and -respect. Indeed, Aristotle argued in the Nichomachean Ethics that
this was the precondition for the other forms of love (NE, IX.8). However, the term philautia
admits positive and negative varieties. Aristotle was referring to its more benevolent type, a
secure form of self-esteem in which this self-regard is not at the expense of other people (who
are equally respected and cherished). His ideal of self-love is a reflective pursuit of virtue,
and the desire to cultivate one’s character, to thereby be better able to extend affection and
help to others. By contrast, its darker variant encompasses notions such as narcissism,
arrogance and egotism. (Indeed, narcissism itself is an untranslatable word of sorts, derived
from the legend of the self-absorbed Narcissus.) In a related, but slightly different way,
French has two words for self-love. Held in higher regard by the likes of Rousseau (1762) is
amour de soi, literally ‘love of oneself,’ which depicts self-esteem that is unconditional and
secure (Cooper, 1998). On the other hand, amour proper, or self-love,’ is comparatively
fragile and contingent on the validation of others.
Storgē: Familial love
The next category is storgē, which in classical Greece depicted care and affection, usually
between family members (Isaacs, 2015). For instance, Browning (2002, p.335) describes it in
terms of the ‘deep and preferential investment by parents’ in their children. Admittedly, there
is a fuzzy boundary between storgē and philia as there is between many categories here
given that some friendships can be so close that the person is essentially considered family.
Indeed, in Lee’s (1977) typology, storgē was characterised more as a companionate love.
Nevertheless, it is useful to differentiate between the love one may have for one’s closest
friends, and the kind of deep familial love that can exist between kin (Montgomery & Sorell,
1997). In terms of the words uncovered in the analysis, storgē is captured by the verb
kanyininpa, from the Aboriginal Pintupi language. Myers (1991) suggests it refers to “an
intimate and active relationship between a “holder” and that which is “held,”” capturing the
deep feeling of nurturance and protection a parent usually feels for a child (p.146). Such love
is quite different to the companionship between friends, encompassing powerful sentiments
of care, protection, and unconditional (i.e., non-contingent) responsibility.
Epithymia: Passionate love
We now move into the first of five categories pertaining to what might be called ‘romantic’
love. (One should note though that romantic relationships may also involve some of the other
‘flavours’ included in the typology, particularly storgē and philia.) Romantic love refers
generally to the more or less exclusive bond with some exemptions, like polygamy
between two people who identify as ‘partners.’ This first type, epithymia, pertains to
passionate love, encompassing qualities such as sensual desire and physical attraction. In
Lee’s (1977) and Sternberg’s (1986) theories, passion was one of the three primary forms of
love (labelled by Lee as érōs). However, epithymia is preferred here, enabling érōs to be used
more generally for non-sexual appreciation and desire, as outlined above. For instance,
Tillich (1954) argues that érōs ‘transcends’ epithymia, precisely because érōs is not merely
about basic physical desire, but is imbued with higher values (e.g., an appreciation of beauty).
An alternative title for this category was erotikos, as per Plutarch’s dialogue on passion of
that name (more commonly referred to as the Amatorius) (Brenk, 1988); however, epithymia
arguably renders the distinction with érōs clearer. As with the other categories, various words
pertained to this feeling. For instance, in Chilean Yagán, mamihlapinatapei refers to a look
between people that expresses unspoken but mutual desire, while in Tagalog, kilig captures
the butterflies in the stomach arising from an interaction with (or a thought of) someone one
desires or finds attractive.
Paixnidi: Playful love
The second category of romantic love is labelled here as paixnidi. This was one of Lee’s
(1977) three primary forms of love, for which he used the Latin cognate, ludus. However, for
consistency, the Greek paixnidi is preferred here. Both are nouns, meaning game or play.
Moreover, both are multifaceted, capable of being deployed in positive or negative ways. In
their positive inflection, they can refer to playful gestures of flirtation, to coy, game-based
strategies (e.g., playing ‘hard to get’), or to cheeky displays of affection. An example of the
latter is found in Tagalog, where gigil describes the irresistible urge to pinch/squeeze
someone because they are loved or cherished. At a deeper level, in Western contemplative
mystery traditions, the phrase ludus amoris depicted the divine play of God, in which God
eludes and yet also entices the spiritual seeker (Underhill, 1941). Comparable concepts, and
concomitant terms, are found in other traditions, such as the Hindu notion of lila (Kinsley,
1974). However, paixnidi and ludus can also have negative connotations, such as describing
scheming and deception in relation to love. Indeed, many studies drawing on Lee’s typology
emphasise this darker ‘gamefulness’ (rather than a more benevolent ‘playfulness’). For
instance, Sarwer, Kalichman, Johnson, Early, and Ali (1993, p.265) define ludus as “a
manipulative, game-playing orientation towards intimate relationships,” finding that this was
the best predictor of coercion among Lee’s six styles. This negative side of paixnidi/ludus is
reflected in the Boro verb onsay, which has been rendered as to pretend to love.’
Mania: Possessive love
Related to the negative aspects of paixnidi/ludus is mania, the darkest category of love in this
typology. Mania is already a loanword of course, but was also specifically deployed by Lee
(1977) as one of his three secondary styles, a possessive, dependent form of love arising from
a noxious combination of érōs (as Lee deployed the term) and ludus. It has its parallel in
Sternberg’s (1997) notion of ‘fatuous/infatuated love,’ which he conceived as a problematic
conjoining of passion and commitment (thus minus intimacy). A modern English equivalence
might be ‘limerance,’ coined by Tennov (1998) to depict this intense, somewhat unstable
feeling. Similarly, it has been conceptualised by Sperling and Berman (1991) as ‘desperate
love,’ and by Hindy and Schwarz (1994) as ‘anxious romantic attachment.’ This type of love
has its versions among the words/phrases analysed here, like the French notion of amour fou,
which literally translates as ‘mad love.’ Indeed, scholars have argued that this darker form of
love is worryingly common, in which positive feelings are intermingled with emotions like
anger, jealousy and anxiety, to the extent that Spitzberg and Cupach (1998) claim
provocatively in their book The Dark Side of Close Relationships that love and hate are
indeed impossible to disentangle” (p.xiii).
Prâgma: Rational love
Standing in contrast to the intensity and instability of mania is prâgma. This was another of
Lee’s (1977) secondary styles, a rational, sensible form of love arising from the conjunction
of ludus and storgē. It has a tenuous parallel with Sternberg’s (1997) notion of ‘empty’ love,
which consists of commitment only. However, the pejorative qualifier ‘empty’ – implying a
partnership in which people stay together, but feel no ‘love’ (e.g., intimacy) for each other
fails to capture the nuances embedded within prâgma. The term can be translated as a deed,
action, or ‘a thing done.’ It thus captures the sense that love is not only the swooning feeling
of ‘falling’ for someone, but also consists in the long-term process of building a life together,
of forging a bond that does not depend upon the passing whims of desire. This aspect of love
is often overlooked, or is not even regarded as love per se, as implied by Sternberg. However,
its value has been recognised by theorists such as Fromm (1956), who argued in The Art of
Loving that people place too much importance on ‘falling in love,’ and not enough on
learning how to ‘stand in love.’ Without denying that ‘empty’ forms of commitment do exist
(Hatfield, Bensman, & Rapson, 2012), in its fullest sense, prâgma arguably exemplifies this
notion of ‘standing in love.’ It has its kinship in the Korean noun jeong, which depicts a deep
affinity or connectedness that is not necessarily accompanied by romance. It is also reflected
in the French verb s'apprivoiser, which literally means to tame,’ but which in the context of
a deep relationship can depict a mutual process of accommodation, whereby both sides learn
to trust and accept each other.
Anánkē: Star-crossed love
We come to the fifth and final type of romantic love one that might be regarded as its
deepest and most complete form, although it can also be associated with tragedy, as per the
archetype of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. While this type doesn’t feature in Lee’s (1977)
typology though agápē comes close it is identified by Sternberg (1997) as ‘consummate
love, involving the trinity of intimacy, passion and commitment. This type of love is
strongly represented among the words analysed here. Interestingly, many allude to destiny
and fate, capturing the sense that powerful forces guide its appearance in people’s lives,
hence the choice of anánkē as the overarching label. In classical Greek, anánkē represented a
binding force or necessity, and similarly implied unshakable destiny, to the extent that the
poet Simonides wrote that “Even the Gods don’t fight against anánkē (cited in Bowra, 1958,
p.61). For instance, in Japanese, koi no yokan refers to the feeling on meeting someone that
falling in love will be inevitable, while in Chinese yuán fèn describes a ‘binding force’ that
impels a relationship ordained by destiny. These are augmented by words which, while not
invoking fate, depict unshakable ‘lifelong’ forms of love, such as sarang in Korean.
Agápē: Compassionate love
The next form of love here is agápē. This featured in Lee’s (1977) typology as a secondary
type, a combination of érōs and storgē, involving charitable and ‘selfless’ love. The term is
closely associated with Greek versions of the Bible, in which it is prominent as the kind of
unconditional love that God was depicted as holding towards humanity. (The translators of
the King James Bible chose to render agápē as charity, for various reasons, a rendering which
many scholars have suggested is not ideal (Hitchens, 2011).) As such, Jesus implored his
followers to emulate this in their relations with one another. Indeed, in the Christian tradition,
agápē is valorised as pre-eminent among the theological virtues: in the words of St. Paul, So
faith, hope, love [agápē] abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love (Revised
Standard Version, 1952; 1 Corinthians 13:13). Thus, in its truest sense, agápē is not love
directed exclusively towards select others. That is, a parent might feel unconditional, selfless
love towards their child, such that they would sacrifice themselves to protect their progeny.
However, in the fullest sense of the term, agápē depicts a more universal compassionate love,
directed towards others ‘in general.’ There are many terms which pertain to this kind of love,
including several expressing a sense of ‘loving-kindness,’ such as pittiarniq in Inuit, maitrī in
Sanskrit, and gemilut hasadim in Yiddish. Related too are words concerning the virtue of
showing kindness and hospitality to others, even (or especially) to strangers, from melmastia
in Pashto to ubuntu in Nguni Bantu.
Koinōnía: Momentary love
This penultimate type tends to be overlooked or underappreciated in discussions around love,
mainly because people usually only refer to love in the context of stable or enduring
relationships. However, in recent years, an innovative theory proposed by Fredrickson (2013)
entitled ‘Love 2.0’ – identifies love with momentary micro-feelings of connection with
people. Indeed, Fredrickson argues that this is love, and that the other forms, as discussed
above, are rather elaborations of these fleeting intimacies. However, here this type is included
as one form among many. The word selected to represent this form of love is koinōnía, which
pertains to feelings of communion, sharing, and intimacy. However, in contrast to the
negotiated longevity of prâgma discussed below koinōnía is at the other end of the
temporal scale; not an absence of commitment per se, but an absence of extended duration at
all. Rather, it is a momentary spark between people, such as a meaningful flash of eye
contact, or a shared moment of ‘participatory consciousness’ (Lutz, 2009), e.g., as enjoyed by
audiences at a captivating musical event. This momentary type of love is captured by the
French noun frisson, which depicts a sudden thrill, involving a potent combination of fear and
Sébomai: Reverential love
This final form of love is also not often included in prominent typologies, like Lee’s (1977)
or Sternberg’s (1986). However, in some ways, it is the logical counterpart to agápē. Recall
that agápē was viewed as the kind of benevolent, paternal love that God held towards
humanity, which Jesus encouraged his followers to emulate. As such, in conceiving of an
asymmetrical relationship between God and humankind, agápē expresses the love flowing
‘down’ from God. Correspondingly, this relationship has its concomitant ‘upwards’ form, a
submissive stance of reverence and devotion. This is encapsulated by the Greek term
sébomai, which means to stand in reverence, awe, and worship. This form of love combines
the utmost of respect and devotion, together with darker elements such as fear, reflecting the
power asymmetry of the dyad, which in the case of a relationship with God is essentially
infinite (Johnson, 2016). Indeed, Keltner and Haidt (2003) describe awe as a “spiritual
emotion” that exists in a powerful, rarefied zone in the upper reaches of pleasure and on the
boundary of fear (p.297). A somewhat similar form of devotional love, found within the
Hindu tradition, is expressed by the Sanskrit term bhakti. However, in that cultural context,
devotion can potentially take on different emotional qualities to those usually found within
Western traditions, such as intimacy; this point shall be addressed further in the discussion
below. Relatedly, there are words which pertain to other kinds of persons aside from Gods
that may be a focus of such love, like the Sanskrit term guru, which describes a revered
spiritual teacher or guide. This type of devotional love can also be extended to secular
persons albeit that the love retains a quasi-religious fervour such as music or screen idols,
a Greek-derived word which is particularly apt, given that it originally referred usually to an
image of a deity.
This paper has sought to extend the typologies of love previously formulated by Lee (1977)
and Sternberg (1986). In this present study, 14 different types (or ‘flavours’) of love were
identified. Again though, it should be emphasised that this typology does not imply that a
given relationship can necessarily be pigeon-holed as exclusively constituting just one type;
rather, partnerships may potentially be a blend of more than one flavour. To go beyond a
merely descriptive typology, it will be helpful to understand the conceptual interrelationships
between these different types. To that end, it is possible to group these 14 into four
overarching thematic categories, as shown in figure 1 below: non-personal; caring; romantic;
and transcendent. Moreover, each category can be understood as being driven by a specific
motivation: appreciation; concern; desire; and self-transcendence.
[insert figure 1 about here]
First, there are three forms of non-personal love, i.e., not directed towards people,
including love for experiences (meraki), objects (érōs), and places (chōros). With these
forms, the fundamental dynamic appears to be appreciation: above all, the person takes
pleasure or interest in the phenomenon in question (Carlson, 2002). They may of course also
care for these items, but this is not necessarily the case. Nor is it the kind of deep concern and
responsibility associated with love for family members, say. This brings us to the second
category, caring love. This involves non-romantic forms of affection that tend to be reserved
for friends (philia), family (storgē), and oneself (philautia). Here the fundamental dynamic is
arguably concern, in the sense of being vested in the other person’s welfare, with incumbent
feelings of duty and responsibility (Myers, 1991). Third, there are five forms of romantic
love: passionate (epithymia); playful (paixnidi); possessive or otherwise troubled (mania);
sensible (prâgma); and ‘star-crossed’ (anánkē). Here the main dynamic is desire, i.e.,
physical and/or mental attraction, usually involving passion and sexual excitement
(Luhmann, 1986). Finally, there are three forms of love which could be regarded as
transcendent, in which the individual abrogates their own needs or concerns: compassionate
(agápē), unitive (koinōnía), and reverential love (sébomai). With these, the main dynamic is
self-transcendence, in that the person overcomes narrow self-pre-occupation, and is instead
absorbed in feelings that yoke them to a broader or higher concern (Lomas, 2015b).
Thus, one can see that this schema considerably extends the earlier typologies of Lee
(1977) and Sternberg (1986). For as useful as their earlier efforts were, those typologies were
limited to love for people, and often (though not exclusively) romantic forms of love. As
such, they do not account for the many ways in which people use the term ‘love.’ Speaking
reflexively, I can, for instance, state that I love my wife, my parents, my brother and sister,
my friends, London, David Bowie, ice cream, and swimming outdoors. Clearly, these are all
different forms of love, as Lee and Sternberg would readily acknowledge. But there is no
room in their schemas for the love I hold for those latter four items. But I do mean it when I
say I love them, actively choosing this strong word over weaker verbs, such as to like or to
One might wonder whether such an all-inclusive conception of love is necessarily
helpful. After all, it could be argued that the concept of love is enriched through a degree of
specificity and uniqueness. However, the prerogative of this paper is to reflect the way in
which the term love functions in common discourse, where it covers a wide range of
phenomena, as argued above. That said, this broader conception of love raises the question of
the extent to which it differs from related stances such as liking. Ultimately, as alluded to
previously, it seems the main way in which these can be distinguished is in terms of the
strength of the passion. According to Sternberg (1987), many theories conceive of liking and
loving as being regions along a spectrum, rather than separate, discrete categories. Both
generally denote a stance of appreciation towards a phenomenon: milder forms are labelled
liking; then, once a critical threshold is reached which varies from person to person a
designation of love is deemed more appropriate.
Some scholars have attempted to stretch Lee’s and Sternberg’s models so that they
can account for a greater variety of loving relationships. This is the case with Whang et al.
(2004) for instance, who, as noted above, suggested that bikers genuinely feel érōs, mania
and agápē in relation to their motorcycles. However, such attempts rather seem like they are
straining to make the data (i.e., the way people talk about ‘loving’ motorcycles) fit the theory.
Arguably, we will develop a better understanding of love if we allow the theory to emerge
out of the data. This isn’t to imply that Lee and Sternberg did not base their theories on data.
It’s just that they started with a limited conceptualisation of love, since their models were
formulated on the basis of only three primary components components which tend to be
present in romantic love. However, as noted above, there is no a priori reason that love
should only comprise three such components. Indeed, it was possible here to identify three
further candidates that appear to warrant the status of primary components: care; connection;
and appreciation. These can be considered primary in that their presence alone might still
merit the use of love. For instance, I might love a new song that I hear on the radio: this
feeling is not characterised by Sternberg’s components of passion, intimacy, or commitment,
but just by aesthetic appreciation. As such, I have made a preliminary attempt to categorise
the 14 types of love according to six primary components Sternberg’s trio of passion,
intimacy, and commitment, plus care, connection, and appreciation as outlined in table 1
[insert table 1 about here]
The table also reflects the possibility that nearly all forms of love potentially have a
destructive ‘dark’ side (Spitzberg & Cupach, 1998). This potentiality was discussed above in
relation to mania which is by definition harmful and to an extent paixnidi. However, most
of the forms can likewise have unhealthy strains. On reflection, there appear to be at least
three destructive factors that can render love as unhealthy. First, there is the potential for the
focus of one’s love to be objectified, i.e., treated as an object, without agency or dignity.
Second, and relatedly, there is the possibility of treating this target as one’s possession.
Indeed, these two tend to go hand in hand. However, they are not necessarily identical. One
could imagine scenarios in which a person is objectified but not necessarily viewed
possessively, such as when people fantasise about celebrities. Conversely, it is possible to be
possessive without objectifying, as might be found with an overbearing parent.
A third factor is the extent to which the object of love is appropriate for that type, or
whether it is ‘misdirected’ according to prevailing norms. That is, love is a relational
phenomenon, and cannot be appraised independently of its object. For each of the types, there
is arguably an implicit set of people or phenomena who would usually i.e., according to
norms in most cultures be deemed suitable loci for that type. If these ‘natural’ pairings are
interfered with, it is usually regarded as problematic. To appreciate this point, consider the
four overarching thematic categories, introduced above. From this schematic, one can
appreciate that all 14 forms of love are not equivalent, nor are they interchangeable with
respect to their focus. Or at least, if a person treats them as interchangeable, or the boundaries
between the categories become blurred, this tends to be seen as problematic, and indeed as
pathological. If, for instance, forms of romantic love are directed towards people or items
associated with the other three categories, this is usually considered morally wrong and/or a
classifiable pathology, with these inappropriate forms of cathexis referred to clinically as
paraphilias (Kafka, 1994). Similarly, if a person is unable to differentiate feelings towards
people from feelings towards objects, this is widely treated as characteristic of psychopathy,
being evidence of dehumanisation and detachment (Ali & Chamorro-Premuzic, 2010). As
such, while this paper explored the merits of an expanded understanding of love, it is also
vital to retain a sense of the crucial differences between its different forms. This is
particularly the case with regard to who or what is the focus of a certain type of feeling.
Overall then, this paper represents a promising initiative in terms of expanding our
understanding of love. However, there are limitations to the analysis which should be borne
in mind. First, while untranslatable words have helped to illuminate the different types of
love, the analysis does not provide a comprehensive picture of these words themselves. That
is, like the term love, many of these words are themselves polysemous, incorporating a
wealth of meanings. These meanings do not necessarily fit neatly within the specific types of
love outlined above, for which the terms were used as examples. For instance, bhakti was
included as an example of sébomai, i.e., devotional love for God. However, while it is not
inaccurate to cite this as an instance of sébomai, bhakti also embeds feelings that, in the
West, one might not usually associate with reverence for a deity, such as passion, intimacy,
care, and connection (Kumar, 2010). Thus, bhakti cannot simply be classified as a form of
devotional love, at least as far as this type of love is usually understood in Western contexts.
That said, in not fitting neatly into this conceptual schema, it could also be argued that
terms like bhakti expand our current understanding of the different types of love. That is, one
might suggest that the schema outlined here is somewhat Western-centric, being constructed
by a scholar born, raised, and working in the UK. As such, it inevitably reflects Western ideas
around love. For instance, its conception of devotional love has been influenced by Judeo-
Christian concepts and practices in this regard, which tend to emphasise qualities such as
awe, respect, and emotional distance (Johnson, 2016). This stands in contrast to devotional
ideas associated with traditions such as Hinduism, in which a greater level of intimacy is
encouraged or permitted. Indeed, in the Vedanta teachings known as Ádvaita (or ‘non-dual),
the individual self or soul known as ātman is regarded as being of the same essence’ or
process as the Godhead, known as Brahman (Poonamallee, 2010). In that context, one may
have a different conception of reverential love, compared to traditions like Judaism and
Christianity, where there is usually a vast ontological separation between the person and God.
However, rather than such considerations being necessarily problematic for the theoretical
schema above, these possibilities may help to enrich it. That is, over the coming years, more
comprehensive analyses of relevant untranslatable words can help enhance our understanding
of the different types of love identified here.
A second point of consideration is the assignation of specific types of love as being
variously constituted by the six components outlined in table 1. It must be acknowledged that
this assignation is merely hypothetical at this stage. It is based on a close reading of the words
that helped create the category, together with reflections based on personal experience. Future
research will be required to substantiate or otherwise refine these assignations. Relatedly, the
14 types of love identified here are not necessarily exhaustive. Indeed, given that Sternberg’s
(1986) three primary components gave rise to seven possible permutations, with six primary
components the number of theoretical combinations rises to 63! Without implying that there
are 63 different types of love, it is possible that other forms of love remain to be identified.
Indeed, it is hoped that this paper will provide the stimulus for just such a research program,
aiming to both better understand the 14 types identified here (e.g., in terms of how they load
on the six hypothesised components), and to ascertain whether these should be joined by any
other distinct types.
Thus, while the analysis above is promising, its conclusions are merely tentative at
this stage. It will be instructive to investigate these ideas further through both qualitative and
quantitative methods. Qualitative enquiry will enable a better understanding of the words
used here to generate the various types of love. For instance, in-depth interviews with people
who have experiential familiarity with the notion of bhakti will help to shed more light on
this concept, and by extension, also enrich our appreciation of reverential love. Such analyses
could then be augmented by quantitative assessment, particularly factor analysis. One long-
term goal would be to construct psychometric scales relevant to each of the types of love.
Doing so will help establish their construct validity, tease out their nuances, and facilitate an
understanding of how they interrelate. Likewise, it would be instructive to examine the
biological substrates of these different forms. As per the neural correlates of consciousness
paradigm (Fell, 2004), it is possible that these types will have different neurophysiological
patterns associated with them. Should such signatures be identified, this will help to further
establish whether these 14 types do indeed represent distinct forms (or ‘flavours’) of love. As
such, it is hoped that the current paper will stimulate a research agenda that allows us to
better understand love, thus doing justice to this most cherished and yet polysemous of
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meraki chōros storgē philia
érōs Non-personal Caring philautia
appreciation concern
self-transcendence desire
epithymia mania
koinōnía Transcendent Romantic paixnidi
agápē sébomai prâgma anánkē
Figure 1. The 14 types of love, aggregated into 4 categories, together with their fundamental drivers.
The components of love
The destructive factors
Table 1. The 14 types of love, illustrating their loadings on the 6 hypothesised components,
and the 3 hypothesised destructive factors
... Autonomy refers to the need of a person to feel that his or her activities are self-chosen, selfgoverned, and self-endorsed (Deci and Ryan, 2000; Ryan and Deci, 2000). Sometimes, people meet their autonomy demands through building and maintaining their unique identity [9]. Strong attachments are linked to the theme of individuation, reflecting a person's desire to feel autonomous (Thomson, 2006). ...
... In addition to the need for autonomy, people also have a need for affiliation by being motivated to maintain bonds of human relationships [9]. . According to Baumeister and Leary, 1995, the need for affiliation which is fullfilled by a possession, generally results in increased love. ...
... They usually tend to exert influence on their possessions and build bonds with them. Individuals are more likely to dedicate themselves to possessions if they feel that they have some control over the possession [9]. Thus, the following hypothesis has been developed: H0. ...
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Research Objectives: Every day, the number of personal care brands available on the market grows. There is a lot of competition in this field. Companies are continuously trying to sustain the loyalty of their customers. But, many of the customers covet to different or newer brands in order to try something new. Therefore, brands must ensure that their customers stick to their brand as if they have fallen in love with it. Brand love is one such thing that ensures that the customer not only sticks to a particular brand but also preach of it. This study aims to determine the various underlying factors that affect the development of brand love so that these factors could be controlled accordingly in order to increase this brand love among the customers. Research Methodology : Four personal care brands were selected for analysis, namely, Lakme, Nivea, Garnier and Dove. In order to obtain data, a questionnaire was circulated to Indian citizens belonging to the age range of 18-40 years. The various factors were identified through published literature and tested for their influence over brand love through correlation and regression analysis. Conclusion : It was found that brand commitment, long term relationship, anticipated separation distress, self-brand integration and need for affiliation were some common factors that influenced brand love in personal care product brands.
... As noted above, in the initial GT analysis of 216 words that established the foundation for the lexicography (Lomas, 2016b), I identified six main categories. With the gradual addition of over 1,400 new words to date, it has been possible to conduct and publish analyses of each category separately, revealing their internal structure: positive feelings (Lomas, 2017a), ambivalent feelings (Lomas, 2017b), love (Lomas, 2018c), prosociality (Lomas, 2018b), character (Lomas, 2019c), and spirituality (Lomas, 2019a). In addition, the new words have also led to the identification of six further categoriesstill within the three meta-category structureas illustrated below in Figure 1. ...
... Moving to the second meta-category of relationships, my initial analysis of this (in Lomas, 2016b) generated two categories: love (bonds to select close people and phenomena), and prosociality (connection to others more broadly). With love, the value of exploring untranslatable words to bring greater granularity was particularly evident, as articulated in Lomas (2018c). Perhaps few emotional states are as cherished as love, with surveys consistently reporting it to be among the most sought-after and valorised of experiences (Wilkins & Gareis, 2006). ...
... The first metacategory is qualia, which includes positive feelings (Lomas, 2017a), ambivalent feelings (Lomas, 2017b), and nowin the updated iteration of the analysis, with over 1,400 new words added to the lexicography since my initial analysis (Lomas, 2016b)also cognition (Lomas, forthcoming d) and embodiment (Lomas, forthcoming e). The second is relationships, featuring love (Lomas, 2018c), prosociality (Lomas, 2018b), and now also ecoconnection (Lomas, 2019b) and aesthetics (Lomas, forthcoming a). And the third is personal development, comprising character (Lomas, 2019c), spirituality (Lomas, 2019a), and now also competence (Lomas, forthcoming b) and understanding (Lomas, forthcoming c). ...
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Positive psychology has been critiqued as Western-centric, influenced by the mostly Western contexts in which it has developed. English is its dominant mode of discourse, for example, which has shaped its understanding of its subject matter. To generate a more comprehensive cross-cultural 'map' of wellbeing, the author is creating a lexicography of relevant 'untranslatable' words (without exact translation in English). An initial analysis of 216 words, published in the Journal of Positive Psychology in 2016, identified six main categories: positive feelings, ambivalent feelings, love, prosociality, character, and spirituality. Subsequently, over 1,400 more words have been added to the lexicography to date. As a result, analyses have been published of each category separately, revealing their internal structure. In addition, six further categories have been identified: cognition, embodiment, aesthetics, eco-connection, competence, and understanding. This paper summarises these analyses, and outlines their significance in terms of augmenting the conceptual map in positive psychology.
... To Aristotle, healthy philautia is vigorous "in both its orientation to self and to others" due to its inherent virtue (Grewal, 2016). "By contrast, its darker variant encompasses notions such as narcissism, arrogance and egotism" (Lomas, 2017). In its positive aspect, any interactivity "has beneficial consequences, whereas in the latter case, philautia will have disastrous consequences" (Fialho, 2007). ...
... Aristotle argued in Nichomachean Ethics that self-love is a precondition for all other forms of love. (Lomas, 2017) Positive self-qualities determine one's relation to self, to others, and the world. They provide the recognition that one is of value, consequential, and worthy of love. ...
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Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is one of the most common psychophysiological malfunctions, affecting the emotional and mental well-being of over 15 million U.S. adults who find themselves caught up in a densely interconnected network of fear and avoidance of social situations. These observations provide insight into the relationship deficits experienced by people with SAD. Their innate need-for-intimacy is no less dynamic than that of any individual, but their impairment disrupts the ability (means-of-acquisition) to establish affectional bonds in almost any capacity. The spirit is willing, but competence insubstantial. It is the means-of-acquisition and how they are symptomatically challenged by SAD that is the context of this research. Notwithstanding overwhelming evidence of social incompatibility, there is hope for the startlingly few SAD persons who commit to recovery. A psychobiographical approach integrating positive psychology's optimum human functioning with CBT's behavior modification, neuroscience's network restructuring, and other supported and non-traditional approaches can establish a working platform for discovery, opening the bridge to the procurement of forms of intimacy previously inaccessible. It is an arduous and measured crossing that only 5% of the afflicted will even attempt in the first year of onset.
... This author posits that different combinations of these three dimensions form different love experiences, such as non-love, liking, and infatuation, as well as empty, romantic, companionate, fatuous, and consummate love. Both theories agree that there is a romantic love style characterised as intimate, passionate, alluring, irrational, intensively felt, and with a physical attraction component, all of which are difficult to maintain over time (Lomas, 2018;Rule-Groenewald, 2013). ...
... showing no significant deterioration of model fit of the alternative model (Cheung & Rensvold, 2002). All our analyses were performed using MPlus 8.2 (Muthén & Muthén, 1998-2018 and SPSS 24 (IBM Corporation, Armonk, NY, USA). ...
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Understanding the construct of romantic love is an important task in societies all around the world. However, instruments designed to assess this construct are scarce and most of them were developed more than a decade ago. De la Peña, Ramos, Luzón, and Recio (2011) proposed the Myths, Fallacies and Erroneous Beliefs about the Ideal of Romantic Love Scale. In this current study we provide the psychometric properties of this scale in a representative sample of adolescents. The analytic strategy included both Exploratory Factor Analysis and Confirmatory Factor Analysis. We achieved a best-factor structure using a unidimensional model of romantic beliefs which also had an adequate estimated reliability. In agreement with descriptions in the existing academic literature, the resulting romantic beliefs factor was significantly related to hostile and benevolent sexism, although slightly less so in the latter case. Finally, differential validity was examined using ‘gender’ and ‘having a partner’ as independent variables; the differences in romantic beliefs according to these variables also agreed with previous reports in the literature. We provide a thorough discussion of our results and highlight the implications of our findings for clinical practice.
... The six categories initially identified are still present, and moreover have been enriched by the additional words, with analyses published on each: positive feelings (Lomas, 2017a), ambivalent feelings (Lomas, 2017b), love (Lomas, 2018b), prosociality (Lomas, 2021b), character (Lomas, 2019b), and spirituality (Lomas, 2019a), plus a theoretical paper on the project itself (Lomas, 2018a). However, six new categories have also been identified. ...
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Art and aesthetics have long been understood as central to human well-being and flourishing. However, the academic study of these phenomena has been critiqued for its Western-centricity and general lack of cross-cultural engagement. As such, this article aims to broaden our appreciation of the contours of aesthetics by engaging with relevant “untranslatable” words (i.e., without an exact equivalent in English), thereby enriching our conceptual map of this arena. Over 300 relevant terms from 24 languages were located and analyzed using grounded theory. Four main metathemes were identified, each with several themes: stimuli (spanning the sensory modalities of sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, and the mind), qualities (harmony, naturalness, simplicity, prettiness, and shock), dynamics (appreciation, understanding, and inspiration), and modes (modalities, movements, and techniques). The article therefore adds to our understanding of this vital arena of human well-being and flourishing, though, as ever, further work is needed.
... Through this evolving project I've been trying to expand and augment the nomological 'map' of concepts relating to wellbeing in psychology by incorporating ideas from other cultures (Lomas, 2020). This has enabled the identification of new conceptual nuances in 12 main categories, including positive emotions (Lomas, 2017a), ambivalent emotions (Lomas, 2017b), prosociality (Lomas, 2018a), love (Lomas, 2018b), character (Lomas, 2019d), spirituality (Lomas, 2019b), and eco-connection (Lomas, 2019c). Although still a work-in-progress, the project suggests that current conceptualizations and theories of wellbeing -Western-centric as they tend to bemay be missing out on important ideas and perspectives from other cultures. ...
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The past 150 years have seen remarkable advances in the study of wellbeing. To appreciate the value and significance of these developments, this paper offers a historical perspective on their dynamics, arguing that we have seen four great waves of wellbeing scholarship in the modern West. I begin by exploring the wave metaphor itself, and then propose that these waves have been unfurling in a Western cultural ‘ocean.’ As such, I then explore key historical currents that have shaped this ocean, including Greek philosophy, Christianity, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment. From there, the narrative considers the emergence of the first wave (psychiatry and psychotherapy), second wave (humanistic psychology), and third wave (positive psychology). The paper concludes by suggesting we are seeing an emerging fourth wave of ‘global wellbeing scholarship,’ in which these Western waters are beginning to intermingle with other regional oceans (which have likewise progressed through their own developmental currents and waves), creating a more globally inclusive picture of wellbeing.
... In their systematic review, Raffagnino and Puddu (2018) revealed variability within each style and the complexity of its association with the different and opposing factors of relationship quality. Within the same love construct, the frame is not as clear as the different theoretical models might suggest; on this matter, Lomas (2018) affirms the incompleteness of single love theories that do not exhaust the polysemous nature of love. It would be more appropriate to assess how the different styles coexist and are modulated in the individual and in the couple's relationship. ...
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In this paper, we report on the findings of our exploratory research investigating how the similarity or difference of the partners’ love styles could be related to dyadic and familial satisfaction. The empirical literature outlines how love styles are differently associated with various couple dimensions. While most studies employ an individual approach, we assessed whether the similarity of the prevalent love style in each couple was associated with greater dyadic satisfaction. In our sample, comprising 146 heterosexual couples (all married or cohabitating), no such association emerged. Storge and Pragma were the most prevalent love styles; moreover, there was a similar prevalence of the similarity in these two love styles between partners. Hence, the love styles similarity does not show a direct association with marital satisfaction. To establish whether there is some relationship between these variables, it would be useful for future research to investigate the impact of further individual and relational factors and of their interaction.
... Such words indicate phenomena and insights which have not yet been lexicalised in English, and hence tend to be overlooked by psychology, to its detriment. By analysing these words thematically it has been possible to augment the field's current conceptual 'map' of various topics, including positive emotions (Lomas, 2017b), ambivalent emotions (Lomas, 2017c), prosociality (Lomas, 2018b), love (Lomas, 2018c), spirituality (Lomas, 2019a), eco-connection (Lomas, 2019b), and character (Lomas, 2019c). ...
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The development of academic fields is often described through the metaphor of ‘waves.’ Following the instantiation of positive psychology (the first wave), scholarship emerged looking critically at the notions of positive and negative, becoming known as its second wave. More recently, we discern an equally significant shift, namely scholarship that in various ways goes beyond the individual and embraces greater complexity. This includes going beyond the individual person as the primary focus of enquiry to look more deeply at the groups and systems in which people are embedded. It also involves becoming more interdisciplinary and multicultural, and embracing a wider range of methodologies. We submit that these interrelated ripples constitute a form of epistemological ‘broadening’ that merit the label of an incoming ‘third wave.’ This paper identifies the key dynamics of this wave, allowing appreciation not only of the field’s leading edge, but also its developmental potential into the future.
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Love is a psychological need that necessitates reciprocation from the receiving end. This implies that love requires a language for communication. Chapman talks about five primary languages of love namely, words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, receiving gifts, and acts of service. One of the commonly cited reasons for the breakdown of intimate relationships is a deficit in expressing and experiencing love. In the present study, a qualitative approach has been adopted to conduct personal interviews with 30 married persons in order to understand the love dynamics in operation within the context of their married lives. The data collected was analysed to elicit themes that are reflective of the operationalization of love languages. Implications of the research direct counsellors, therapists, and psychologists to psychoeducation of couples on the construct of love languages and provide tailor-made interventions for conflict-filled marriages.
Since the 1990s, research studies and theoretical work have made the case for altruistic and compassionate love as a psychosocial determinant of physical and mental health and well-being. Empirical findings and the deliberations of various conferences, working groups, and think-tank initiatives have laid the groundwork for a field that has been referred to as the epidemiology of love. This article provides a narrative history of this field, beginning with early work in psychology and in sociology. These precursors include decades of psychological studies of romantic, sexual, affectional, and interpersonal bonds, preceded by the work of sociologist Pitirim Sorokin in the 1950s detailing his taxonomy of the multiple aspects and dimensions of altruism and love. More recently, research at the intersection of altruism, love, spirituality, and human flourishing has emerged, including studies of physical and mental health. Currently, funded initiatives are developing applications of this research to global population health.
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The notion of spirituality is increasingly prominent in academic and cultural discourse alike. However, it remains a nebulous concept, capable of diverse interpretations, particularly cross-culturally. In the interest of exploring this diversity, yet also with the aim of identifying common themes, an enquiry was conducted into conceptualizations of spirituality across cultures. Specifically, the enquiry focused on so-called untranslatable words, i.e., which lack an exact equivalent in another language (in this case, English). Through a quasi-systematic search, together with conceptual snowballing, over 200 relevant terms were located. A grounded theory analysis identified three key dimensions: the sacred, contemplative practice, and self-transcendence. Based on these, a conceptualization of spirituality was formulated that may be valid cross-culturally, namely: engagement with the sacred, usually through contemplative practice, with the ultimate aim of self-transcendence.
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Although wellbeing tends to be associated with positive affect, the phenomenological terrain in this regard is often poorly differentiated. In the interest of bringing further granularity to this area, an enquiry was conducted into relevant concepts found across the world’s cultures, focusing specifically on so-called untranslatable words. Through a quasi-systematic search of academic and grey literature, together with conceptual snowballing, 134 relevant terms have been located so far (with the process of enquiry ongoing). Through a process of grounded theory analysis, seven main themes were identified: peace/calm; contentment/satisfaction; cosiness/homeliness; savouring/appreciation; revelry/fun; joy/euphoria; and bliss nirvāṇa. The analysis highlights the need for a more expansive and granular conceptualisation of positive affect, one that recognises the depth and breadth of the subjective terrain that it covers.
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Although wellbeing tends to be associated with positive affect, theorists have suggested it might also involve more ambivalent emotions. Scholars have further argued that although such emotions are somewhat overlooked in Western societies, other cultures are more attuned to them. In the interest of exploring the value of ambivalent emotions, an enquiry was conducted into relevant concepts found across the world’s cultures, focusing specifically on so-called untranslatable words. Through a quasi-systematic search of academic and grey literature, together with conceptual snowballing, 30 relevant terms were located. A process of grounded theory analysis identified five main themes: hope, longing, pathos, appreciation of imperfection, and sensitivity to mystery. The analysis highlights the need for a more expansive conception of wellbeing, going beyond an exclusive identification with positively valenced emotions to incorporate more complex and ambivalent processes.
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The value of compassion has often been appraised in terms of its benefits to the recipient, or its contribution to civil society. Less attention has been paid to the positive effect it may have upon the protagonists themselves, partly because compassion ostensibly appears to involve mainly dysphoric emotions (i.e., sharing another’s suffering). However, driven by the question of why traditions such as Buddhism and Christianity esteem compassion so highly, in this article, a theory of compassion is proposed that focuses on its transformative potential. In particular, I argue that compassion inherently involves a process of self-transcendence, enabling people to enter into an intersubjective state of selfhood. Drawing on Buddhist and Christian ideas, I then suggest that this intersubjective state is not only an antidote to the protagonists’ own suffering, but can accelerate their psychospiritual development. Thus, the article offers a new perspective on compassion that allows us to fully appreciate its transpersonal and transformative potential.
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Although much attention has been paid to culture-specific psychopathologies, there have been no comparable attempts to chart positive mental states that may be particular to certain cultures. This paper outlines the beginnings of a positive cross-cultural lexicography of ‘untranslatable’ words pertaining to well-being, culled from across the world’s languages. A quasi-systematic search uncovered 216 such terms. Using grounded theory, these words were organised into three categories: feelings (comprising positive and complex feelings); relationships (comprising intimacy and pro-sociality) and character (comprising personal resources and spirituality). The paper has two main aims. First, it aims to provide a window onto cultural differences in constructions of well-being, thereby enriching our understanding of well-being. Second, a more ambitious aim is that this lexicon may help expand the emotional vocabulary of English speakers (and indeed speakers of all languages), and consequently enrich their experiences of well-being. The paper concludes by setting out a research agenda to pursue these aims further.
This book is the first work to address the question of what kinds of words get borrowed in a systematic and comparative perspective. It studies lexical borrowing behavior on the basis of a world-wide sample of 40 languages, both major languages and minor languages, and both languages with heavy borrowing and languages with little lexical influence from other languages. The book is the result of a five-year project bringing together a unique group of specialists of many different languages and areas. The introductory chapters provide a general up-to-date introduction to language contact at the word level, as well as a presentation of the project's methodology. All the chapters are based on samples of 1000-2000 words, elicited by a uniform meaning list of 1460 meanings. The combined database, comprising over 70,000 words, is published online at the same time as the book is published. For each word, information about loanword status is given in the database, and the 40 case studies in the book describe the social and historical contact situations in detail.The final chapter draws general conclusions about what kinds of words tend to get borrowed, what kinds of word meanings are particularly resistant to borrowing, and what kinds of social contact situations lead to what kinds of borrowing situations. © 2009 by Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, 10785 Berlin, Germany. All rights reserved.
Critical theorists have accused positive psychology of paying insufficient attention to cultural variation in the way wellbeing is constructed and experienced. While there may be some merit to this claim, the field has developed a more nuanced appreciation of culture than its critics suggest. However, it could also be argued that positive psychology has not sufficiently appreciated or absorbed the wealth of literature within cross-cultural psychology pertaining to wellbeing. This paper aims to forge a bridge between positive psychology and cross-cultural psychology by introducing the idea of ‘positive cross-cultural psychology,’ an interdisciplinary conceptual space for existing and future cross-cultural research on wellbeing. Moreover, the paper offers a meta-theoretical perspective on trends within this literature. It is suggested that cross-cultural research is underpinned by two broad orienting perspectives: a ‘universalising’ perspective, which holds that, despite apparent cultural differences, people share a common human nature; and a ‘relativising’ perspective, which argues that people are strongly shaped by their cultural context. However, the paper finally argues that most research can actually be seen as offering a synthesising perspective – labelled here as ‘universal relativism’ – which recognises universals in the ways wellbeing is sought, constructed and experienced, but allows for extensive variation in the ways these universals are shaped by culture.
The shock of the modern has given way to global and transnational shifts and cultural displacements. What ethical demands have been created by this and what new models of thinking enable us to meet their challenge? Writing across the disciplines of sociology, literature, film, anthropology, and museology, the contributors examine the way in which radical postmodern shifts around knowledge and value have mobilized new relations between ourselves and others and transformed a range of cultural practices. This volume includes philosophical reflections and essays on museums and memory, visual culture, and relations with the other. Postmodernism and the Ethical Subject examines the altered frameworks that simultaneously help us to meet the contemporary challenge and raise the ethical stakes of our historical moment.