Body maps of loves

Pärttyli Rinne*, Mikke Tavast, Enrico Glerean, Mikko Sams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Love is an essential biological, psychological, sociological, and religious phenomenon. Using various conceptual models, philosophers have often distinguished between different types of love, such as self-love, romantic love, friendship love, love of God, and neighborly love. Psychologists and neuroscientists on the other hand have thus far focused predominantly on understanding the emotions and behavioral and neural mechanisms associated with romantic love and parental love. We do not yet know how the models construed by philosophers are related to actual experiences of love, and to which extent they are merely nominal creations connecting phenomena that in fact have little to do with each other. We lack empirical knowledge of how different types of love are experienced as embodied feelings, and how these experiences are related to one another. Here we distinguished between 27 different types of love. Using self-report methods, we measured 1) how subjective feelings of different types of love are topographically embodied; 2) how different types of love are associated with self-reported emotional valence, strength of the bodily and mental experience, association with touch, time elapsed since last experienced, and controllability; and 3) how similar different types of love feel. Our study provides the first mapping of embodied experiences associated with different types of love. The results show that the subjective feelings associated with the love types form a continuum from strongly to weakly felt loves.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • close relationships
  • Experience of emotions
  • positive emotions


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