Romance & Attachment: the drive to love, who we choose and the future of relationships 

How are the Internet and other current cultural norms changing love and attachment?  Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher discusses her brain scanning work (using fMRI) on three brain systems that evolved for reproduction (the sex drive; romantic love; and attachment), maintaining that these brain systems evolved over 4 million years ago, and they will not alter due to Internet dating today.  But the Internet is changing how we court—via texting, emailing, sexting and more.  Using her data on 30,000 individuals, she discusses the newest trend in courtship, what she calls “slow love.”  More and more people are having “friends with benefits,” dating long term and “living together” before marrying—in order to get to know a partner very well before wedding.  Where marriage used to be the beginning of a relationship, now it is the finale.  And she is optimistic about the future.  In her study of 1100 long-term married Americans, she found that 81% would remarry their current spouse.  Then, using more of her fMRI data, she discusses the brain circuits associated with long-term partnership happiness, as well as romantic rejection, love addiction, and human adultery and divorce.  Last, she proposes that the most dramatic current social change is not the Internet, or “slow love;” but the worldwide entrance of women into the paid labor force--and our human return to patterns of romance and attachment that evolved millions of years ago.

Master class

In her master class, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher discusses four primary styles of thinking and behaving linked with the brain systems for dopamine, serotonin, testosterone and estrogen.  Using her data on 80,000 individuals, she explores why we fall in love with one person rather than another, how those of each primary temperament dimension is likely to court, love, and attach—creating great joy and conflict in this primary relationship; and why those of each temperament style is likely to express a different form of love addiction. 



1)   To further understand personality--as a vast combination of four primary styles of thinking and behaving associated with four primary brain systems:  the dopamine, serotonin, testosterone and estrogen systems.

2)   To understand how couples of different thinking/behavioral styles are likely to interact--creating great joy, confusion and sorrow in their relationship.

3)   To discuss four styles of love addiction likely to be associated with each of these four primary dimensions of personality.