Thermographic images of a person with love of tenderness, in which the temperature rises in the hands and face.

Taking advantage of the celebration this Friday of Valentine’s Day, the University of Granada has reported that its scientists have determined that there are different physiological types of love, related to passion, tenderness and social commitment, from the thermal changes that occur in a subject when looking at photographs of the loved one, or conversing with her about her privacy.

The researchers, belonging to the Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Center (CIMCYC), They have determined the differences that occur in the temperature of the skin depending on which of the three components of love (passion, tenderness or social commitment) the subject experiences. And it is that each component of love produces different thermal changes.

Thus, «passion is associated with the novelty of the first love contacts, the desire and the search for risk, and is linked to dopamine (a neurotransmitter of the central nervous system). It establishes an obsessive game of power, of the cat and the mouse, in which there is always a dominant and a subordinate, being terrible discussions and Homeric reconciliations, “he explains. Emilio Gómez Milan, researcher of CIMCYC Thermography Laboratory.

For dominant passionate people, body temperature rises by around 2 degrees Celsius on the face, hands, chest and abdomen (they literally light up), while for subordinates “love causes a thermal effect similar to that of fear or the cold, lowering the temperature of their hands and nose. It is a kind of general adaptation response, a fight-and-flight game, where one fights and the other flees, and these roles can be interchanged ».

The researcher of the CIMCYC Thermography Laboratory Emilio Gómez Milan.

In the case of tenderness (or intimacy), “there is a more reciprocal relationship between both members of the couple, to whom the temperature rises by around one degree in the face and hands, but falls in the abdomen,” he points out. Gomez Milan.

This component of love is related to empathy and friendship, is linked to oxytocin (the hormone responsible for maternal love) and leads us to want to protect the other. Often, tenderness follows passion, replaces it, reducing the couple’s sexual activity but increasing communication, “because mutual care and words of love are an antidote to pain or sadness.”

Finally, social commitment is linked to levels of serotonin (a neurotransmitter related to mood), and occurs in those love relationships of interest, “in which one person is with another because they have to pay a mortgage, for example , or for social prestige “, indicates Emilio Gómez. This component of love does not cause thermal changes in the subject when viewing the photograph of the loved one or having intimate conversations.

“These components of love are different from testosterone-based sexual attraction, where there is sexual promiscuity but the other satisfies our need without being considered special in any way,” warns the UGR researcher.

Thermographic image of a person with commitment love, in which the body temperature does not change.

The types of love

The combination of these components gives rise to different types of love. “A love based only on social commitment is an empty love, while love based only on passion is a fatuous love, and a love based only on tenderness is similar to friendship or altruism,” he says. Emilio Gómez Milan. A love with the three components is a complete love, and a love that combines passion and tenderness, but without commitment, is romantic.

The UGR researcher points out that love changes depending on each country, «because different cultures have different concepts of love: in some, passion dominates, in others commitment and in others tenderness, and love also changes in the duration of the couple, that is, it evolves ”.

60 healthy people, men and women, between 24 and 47 years old, who claimed to be in love participated in this research. After accessing the Thermography Laboratory, the subjects remained naked for 20 minutes to acclimatize, and their base temperature was recorded. In different sessions, the experimental group viewed on their computer screen photos they had chosen of their relationship or had intimate conversations.

In recent years, this same UGR research team has applied thermography to the field of Psychology, determining, for example, the so-called “Pinocchio effect” (according to which the tip of the nose varies its temperature when a person he lies), managing to measure objectively the flamenco duende of the dancers or the mental pain of the so-called «touch-mirror synesthesia».

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