Unveiling the Bodily Locations of Varied Love Forms: A Study by Aalto University

by Manuel Costa
love intensity

A team of scholars from Aalto University have elucidated the physiological locations where different varieties of love are experienced. Conducting a survey on 27 different love forms, the researchers found that such emotions are most prominently sensed in the head. The force and extent of these sentiments differ but generally exist on a spectrum from milder to more intense experiences. The study also indicates that cultural and demographic considerations affect the sensation of love, providing additional directions for future research.

Aalto University scientists have created a physiological map pinpointing where various types of love are felt and the degree of their intensity.

“The kinds of love linked with intimate relationships tend to be similar and are experienced with the most intensity,” states philosopher Pärttyli Rinne, the study’s coordinator. The data was scrutinized by doctoral researcher Mikke Tavast, while research methodology was developed by researcher Enrico Glerean. The inception of the project was a collaborative effort between Rinne and Professor Emeritus Mikko Sams.

Research Methodology

Participants were questioned about their experience of 27 distinct forms of love, ranging from romantic and sexual love to love for family, friends, strangers, nature, a divine entity, or oneself. They were asked to specify the bodily regions where they sensed different types of love, along with the intensity of the physical and mental experience.

Published in the journal Philosophical Psychology, the findings suggest a continuous spectrum of love forms, from less intense to more intense. Each form was most strongly sensed in the head, although the sensation varied in other parts of the body—from confined to the chest area to more widespread feelings. The most potent types of love were experienced throughout the body.

For the physiological mapping, data were collected from several hundred participants via an online survey. The majority of the respondents were young, highly educated women. Participants colored a silhouette of the human body to indicate where they felt each type of love and provided details about the physical and mental sensations, their pleasantness, and their association with touch. They were also asked to rate the intimacy levels of different love types.

Insights and Conclusions

“Love can be divided into sexual and non-sexual categories. Those that are closely related typically have either a sexual or romantic element,” comments Rinne.

Rinne further notes a robust correlation between the physical and mental intensity of love and its pleasantness. “The greater the physical sensation of a love type, the more intense its mental experience, and the more enjoyable it tends to be,” adds Rinne.

One intriguing aspect of the study was the universal sensation of love in the head. “As we transition from more intense to less intense love forms, the sensations in the chest diminish. This could imply that love for strangers or wisdom may be cognitively driven. Moreover, pleasant sensations in the head require additional exploration,” remarks Rinne.

Cultural and Demographic Factors

Cultural and demographic variables, Rinne observes, can significantly influence the experience of love. “If this study were replicated in a highly religious society, love for a deity might be the most intensely felt. Likewise, for parents, as indicated in our ongoing neurological study, love for children could be the dominant form,” states Rinne.


The paper, titled “Body Maps of Loves,” was authored by Pärttyli Rinne, Mikke Tavast, Enrico Glerean, and Mikko Sams, and published on September 5, 2023, in Philosophical Psychology. DOI: 10.1080/09515089.2023.2252464.

The research received financial support from the Kone Foundation, the Academy of Finland, and the Emil Aaltonen Foundation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about love intensity

What is the primary focus of the Aalto University study on love?

The study aims to map the physiological locations in the body where various forms of love are experienced. Researchers surveyed participants on 27 different kinds of love and found that these emotions are most prominently felt in the head.

Who were the key contributors to this research?

The research was coordinated by philosopher Pärttyli Rinne, with data analysis by doctoral researcher Mikke Tavast. Research methods were developed by Enrico Glerean, and the project was initiated in collaboration with Professor Emeritus Mikko Sams.

What methodology was employed for the research?

Participants were surveyed about 27 different types of love, including romantic, sexual, parental, and platonic love. They were asked to specify the physical and mental intensity of these experiences and to color in a silhouette of a human body to indicate where they felt each type of love.

Where is the research published?

The findings have been published in the journal Philosophical Psychology under the title “Body Maps of Loves,” dated September 5, 2023.

What are some key insights from the study?

The study reveals that all forms of love are most intensely felt in the head and vary in other parts of the body. The intensity forms a spectrum, ranging from weaker to stronger sensations. It also suggests that the physical and mental experiences of love are closely correlated.

Does the study consider cultural and demographic factors?

Yes, the study notes that cultural and demographic variables can significantly influence how love is experienced. For example, in a highly religious community, love for a deity might be the most intensely felt form of love.

Who funded the research?

The research received financial support from the Kone Foundation, the Academy of Finland, and the Emil Aaltonen Foundation.

Are there any limitations to the study?

The majority of respondents in the study were young, highly educated women, which may limit the generalizability of the findings. The study suggests that further research could explore how love is experienced in different cultural and demographic settings.

What are the implications of the study for future research?

The study suggests that further investigation is needed to understand the cognitive processes associated with less intensely experienced forms of love, as well as the role of pleasant sensations in the head. It also indicates that exploring cultural and demographic influences could be fruitful.

More about love intensity

  • Philosophical Psychology Journal Article
  • Aalto University Research Department
  • Kone Foundation
  • Academy of Finland
  • Emil Aaltonen Foundation
  • Overview of Love and Emotion Research
  • Survey Methodology in Psychological Research

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TinaS October 8, 2023 - 5:34 pm

this is mind-blowing. especially the part about love being felt in the head. kinda puts a new perspective on “mind over matter” huh?

Sarah J October 8, 2023 - 9:33 pm

Wow, who knew love was so complicated? Always thought it’s just something you feel, not something you can map out in the body.

JerryD October 8, 2023 - 10:42 pm

A bit skeptical here. Love is such a personal experience, can it really be generalized like this? Just sayin’.

Mike_87 October 8, 2023 - 11:34 pm

fascinating stuff! Always wondered why certain types of love feel different, now it makes sense.

Leo_T October 9, 2023 - 12:01 am

Seems like a pretty serious study. But wonder if the results would change with a more diverse group of participants.

Anna_W October 9, 2023 - 6:52 am

So does this mean, the more I feel love in my head, the more real it is? curious.

Bethany_Q October 9, 2023 - 7:41 am

Surprised to see that cultural and demographic factors influence how we feel love. Makes you think how much of it is just in our heads.

DaveR October 9, 2023 - 12:57 pm

Love is love, why complicate it? But still, its interesting to see science dig into things like this.


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