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Love is a feeling you have for someone you have feelings about!
February 18, 2012 12:37 PM   Subscribe

The Love Competition: Can one person experience love more deeply than another? That’s what The Stanford Center for Cognitive and Neurobiological Imaging and filmmaker Brent Hoff set out to understand when they hosted the 1st Annual Love Competition. Seven contestants, ranging from 10 to 75 years of age, took part. They each spent five minutes in an fMRI machine, thinking deeply about love and allowing the imaging technology to measure activity in their dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin/vasopressin pathways. [via]
posted by hincandenza (44 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Just in time for Valentine's Day!
posted by hincandenza at 12:38 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I ♥ MeFi.
posted by fairmettle at 12:47 PM on February 18, 2012


So, people were asked to go into a (loud! uncomfortable!) machine and think about love (sorry, think "deeply" about it), and somehow this is supposed to tell us whether different people experience love, which does not normally consist in thinking about the topic "love", more deeply than others?
posted by kenko at 12:50 PM on February 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


first thought that came to mind: intensity vs. longevity
posted by edgeways at 12:51 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seems like 'cognitive science' is rapidly following behavioral economics, evolutionary psychology, and various other trendy fields on the well-worn path from 'legitimate academic pursuit' to 'generator of cute but meaningless human interest stories.'
posted by pete_22 at 12:57 PM on February 18, 2012 [18 favorites]


Yes, it seems like there's a fair amount missing between "activity in the vasopressin pathway" while thinking about love in an MRI machine and "the depth of the experience of love". But, hey, don't let that stop you from holding your stunt "competition." Or, what pete_22 and kenko said.
posted by jepler at 12:58 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can one person experience love more deeply than another?

Given that no two people's systems are identical, I feel confident in saying that I am 100% sure that the answer to this is: Yes.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:08 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wish someone in a white lab coat would ask to measure my hatred.
posted by planet at 1:13 PM on February 18, 2012 [13 favorites]


I love you, planet.
posted by hincandenza at 1:16 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


...intensity vs. longevity

This.

Given that limerence is so intense, yet not necessarily lasting, I would think that this deeper feeling of love could be intense in one person with lasting staying power, producing a skewed result of the 'intensity' of love.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:17 PM on February 18, 2012


MRI machines usually make me think I HATE THIS FUCKING PLANET AND EVERYTHING IN IT KILL KILL KILL

Maybe just me, though.
posted by desjardins at 1:18 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Machine Love, FTW
posted by b1tr0t at 1:20 PM on February 18, 2012


I always fall asleep in MRI machines. Every time.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:21 PM on February 18, 2012


People, the study was to find out whether love could be measured. The pathways and areas thought to correspond with the feeling of love can be measured. Only the reporters have read more into it than that.

However, I knew that guy was gonna win when i saw him.

somehow this is supposed to tell us whether different people experience love, which does not normally consist in thinking about the topic "love", more deeply than others?

You can't experience the acute feeling of love by thinking about someone you love?
posted by cmoj at 1:24 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


So now it's a competition? Great.
posted by carter at 1:27 PM on February 18, 2012


What is the song in the video?
posted by timsneezed at 1:35 PM on February 18, 2012


It says in the credits, it's "Leap Year" by The Pauses.
posted by hincandenza at 1:37 PM on February 18, 2012


Total Perspective Vortex
posted by randomkeystrike at 1:40 PM on February 18, 2012


My name is The Hamms Bear and I'm going to think about Mr. Rogers, The Electric Company, Starblazers, Muffit II, my first BMX, Intellivision my girlfriend. And when I win she will know that I love her more than anything.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 1:53 PM on February 18, 2012


You can't experience the acute feeling of love by thinking about someone you love?

i. Thinking about someone I love isn't the same as thinking about love.
ii. Suppose I couldn't. Would that show that I couldn't experience love deeply, maybe even more deeply than someone who could—say, when I was actually with that person?
iii. The presupposition of the question, that love is exhausted by an episodic feeling, should be rejected (or at least questioned). Do I stop deeply loving someone—even experiencing deep love for that person—when all I'm feeling is, say, grief at a family member's death?
posted by kenko at 1:56 PM on February 18, 2012


So now it's a competition? Great.

Shit, it's just like high school.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:01 PM on February 18, 2012


I wish someone in a white lab coat would ask to measure my hatred.

I suspect there isn't an fMRI machine sturdy enough to withstand that experiment.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:14 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love you fMRI machine!!!
posted by zippy at 2:41 PM on February 18, 2012


maybe one day they'll be contractual marriages where one party or both must muster a certain score or risk divorce.
posted by Shit Parade at 2:50 PM on February 18, 2012


>So now it's a competition? Great.

Relax. As a practical matter, OKCupid will be perfectly open to incorporating someone's Love Quotient into the list of his or her vital statistics.

If your LQ is four or five standard deviations above the norm, your prospective paramours will appreciate knowing this ahead of time.

Again, rest easy-- your love is a very marketable commodity.
posted by darth_tedious at 2:56 PM on February 18, 2012


We need more competitions like this. I'd like see competitive meditation, where the first one to reach a state of No-Mind will receive a hefty cash prize and the adoration of the crowd.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:00 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Finally, a way to objectively answer "if you reeeally loved me ..."
posted by zippy at 3:07 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


This competition - to love somebody as hard as you can for five minutes - is a Love Sprint, when really it should be a Marathon. Try loving somebody for 26 years.

Every type of love relationship has an analog in some Olympic track & field event. Who doesn't enjoy the High Jump? Who hasn't had to jump the Hurdles? What man hasn't hurled his Javelin or tried a Pole Vault? What woman hasn't tossed her Discus?

Personally I admire the Marathon, because that does take dedication. Unlike the Decathlon, where you kind of try it all.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:21 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was reading the description and thinking the wording looks familiar. Oh, it's because I wrote it and originally posted it on Open Culture. A little attribution, just a small "via" would be nice :)

http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/this_is_your_brain_in_love_scenes_from_the_stanford_love_competition.html

Cheers, Dan
posted by rundhc at 3:22 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Measuring it is the first step towards reproducing it artificially [mad science laugh]
posted by ook at 3:26 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


(that's what she said)
posted by ook at 3:26 PM on February 18, 2012


This competition - to love somebody as hard as you can for five minutes - is a Love Sprint, when really it should be a Marathon. Try loving somebody for 26 years.
The guy who "won" spoke of his deep and abiding love for his wife of fifty years.
posted by Flunkie at 3:27 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The guy who "won" spoke of his deep and abiding love for his wife of fifty years.

Long-term couples tend to generate higher levels of Oxytocin together, so these competitions won't be fair until there is adequate drug testing for that.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:38 PM on February 18, 2012


I don't really care about how scientifically accurate this study is. Can we please just talk about how the adorable 10 year old decided he was going to think about his new baby cousin to emit love–and the only person who beat him was married for 50 years?
That's just so cute.
posted by FirstMateKate at 4:03 PM on February 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


rundhc: I was reading the description and thinking the wording looks familiar. Oh, it's because I wrote it and originally posted it on Open Culture. A little attribution, just a small "via" would be nice :)

http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/this_is_your_brain_in_love_scenes_from_the_stanford_love_competition.html

Cheers, Dan
Oops- sorry! :( It was actually an honest mistake: the link I'd seen, on a friend's Facebook this afternoon, was to the openculture site Dan mentioned and apparently wrote. I found the video really interesting, and did a quick search on Metafilter and was surprised it hadn't been posted, so I started to put together the post. I figured I'd use the direct vimeo url as the main link and the nice description from open culture, and then find any other links that might be interesting such as the original Stanford one, the Wholphin site, etc. The Stanford link seemed liked the right one for the "1st annual" part, so I put that in the main post, and then as I was looking at and rejecting other sites in other tabs as being too cluttered to include, I totally forgot to include the link to the original site I'd seen with that flavor text!

If it's of any value, I really did mean to put a [via] there when I first started getting links together, but it slipped my mind while looking at other links before going back to the Post page.

I'm really sorry about that, Dan! If the mods would like to add a [via] link in the original post, please do so. It would be appropriate.
posted by hincandenza at 5:43 PM on February 18, 2012


If the mods would like to add a [via] link in the original post, please do so.

Sounds good, done!
posted by cortex at 6:05 PM on February 18, 2012


Goodness gracious there are some haters in here. Watch the whole thing, it's adorable and moving and might actually untighten some asses.
posted by june made him a gemini at 6:19 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of the married dutch contortionists who got mad consumate in an MRI. (in the Netherlands, doubly obvious)
posted by serif at 7:40 PM on February 18, 2012


edgeways: "first thought that came to mind: intensity vs. longevity"

First thought that came to mind: Psychopathy.
posted by symbioid at 8:03 PM on February 18, 2012


While I was rooting for the elderly couple myself to "win", perhaps a sign that I'm getting older or that I finally "get" the whole being in a long, deep loving relationship bit, I actually was the most surprised by the response from that 31-year-old-guy-with-a-breakup; did not see him finding the experience being cathartic. Lovely to see everyone "win" in that they all got something out of it.

Perhaps this is an elaborate observation on the powers of meditation, in the ability to think about one particular topic for a sustained period?
posted by the cydonian at 9:36 PM on February 18, 2012


Seems like 'cognitive science' is rapidly following behavioral economics, evolutionary psychology, and various other trendy fields on the well-worn path from 'legitimate academic pursuit' to 'generator of cute but meaningless human interest stories.'

To characterize an entire field through your interaction with it in the popular press is not really fair. I am a cognitive psychologist, and I can tell you that there's plenty of good work done in spite of the dumb fluff work that gets press.

And evolutionary psychology was never quite a "legitimate academic pursuit," it was always mostly just-so stories.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:12 AM on February 19, 2012


Love is like a sin, my love / for the ones who feel it the most
posted by yoHighness at 10:48 AM on February 19, 2012


This is a job for a buddha. Love 100%, 360 degrees. Everyone. Always. What will an fMRI show for the state where compassion is increasing at an increasing speed? :-)

Or, I suppose I could climb in there and think about my partner. But that just wouldn't be fair to the poor little machine. Mine is the awesomest.
posted by Goofyy at 11:28 AM on February 19, 2012


Man, so many people are taking this as some kind of attack on their personal capacity for love. Truly bizarre.
posted by cmoj at 12:24 PM on February 19, 2012


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