Education 173: the Psychology of Love-Educating for Close Relationships

Education 173: the Psychology of Love-Educating for Close Relationships

Education 173: The Psychology of Love-Educating for Close Relationships

Fall 2017Tuesday and Friday, 12:30-1:50


Prof. Joseph Reimer

Office: ASAC 216 Phone: 6-2996

Office Hours: Tuesday 2-3 and by appointment


Course Overview:

We are born for close relationships. Infants cannot survive without at least one close relationship with a nurturing caretaker. Yet the quality of those relationships varies greatly with consequences for how a growing person will sustain loving relationships. As a society we have a great stake in our capacities to sustain caring and loving relationships with friends, lovers and children. But how is that done?

There have been profound philosophic differences about what constitutes a loving relationship. In recent decades social scientists have joined this debate. We will review some of that literature, particularly in developmental, social and evolutionary psychology, to better understand how people think, feel and behave in loving peer relationships. We will consult as well with sociologist and anthropologists and fiction writers for their insights into the nature of these close relationships and how they vary with changing social conditions.

We will also ask educational questions. How can we learn what it takes to sustain close relationships? How can we practice the socio-emotional skills needed to sustain close relationships? And, when so much is changing, what in our times will define loving relationships?

Learning Goals for this Course

  1. Students will learn why it is difficult to define “a loving relationship” and how social scientists can help us to ask good questions about these relationships.
  2. Students will appreciate the significant role that early relationships with parents/caretakers play in shaping how we will form and sustain other loving relationships.
  1. Students will realize how deeply the culture we live in shapes our thoughts and feelings about our intimate relationships.
  2. Students will raise questions about how the technologies we use to communicate help shape the close relationships we form with others.
  3. Students will consider what psychologists have learned about sustaining intimate relationship and why so many relationships fall apart.
  4. Students will wonder about the interpersonal skills that psychologists have highlighted as essential for sustaining intimate relationships.
  5. Students will ask one another how to become more aware of and skilled in the interpersonal skills that may help to sustain close relationships.

Course Outline for Education 173

9/1/17 Session 1: Starting the Conversation

9/5 Session 2: Different Types of Loving Relationship

a)“The Book of Ruth” from The New English Bible

b)“What we talk about when we talk of love” by Raymond Carver

9/8 Session 3: Our First Case Study

Ian McEwan (2007) On Chesil Beach. London: Vintage. (the whole novel)

9/12Session 4: Our Second Case Study

Sarah Waters (2006) The Night Watch. New York: Riverhead Books.

(pp. 228-238, 274-295, 320-339, 356-389, 431-442).

9/15 Session 5:The Art of Loving

E. Fromm, The Art of Loving (parts 1&2).

9/19Session 6: First Loves: Attachment between Child and Caretaker

a)J. Bowlby (1979) “The Making and Breaking of Affectional Bonds”

b)M.S. Ainsworth (1980) “Attahcment: Retrospect and Prospect.”

9/26 Session 7: Attachment and Romantic Relationships

a)C. Hazan and P. Shaver, (1987) “Romantic love conceptualized as an attachment process.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 511-524.

b)P.R. Shaver and M. Mikulincer, (2006) “A Behavioral Systems Approach to Romantic Love Relationships: Attachment, Caregiving and Sex.” In, R.J. Sternberg and K. Weis (Eds.) The New Psychology of Love, chapter 3.

9/29 Session 8: Attachment Styles in Everyday Life

a)A.Levine and R.Heller, Attached. New York: Penguin, 2011. Part 2: Attachment Styles in Everyday Life, pp. 77-149.

10/6 Session 9: Evolutionary Theories of Love

a)D.T. Kendrick (2006) “A Dynamical Evolutionary View of Love” In,

R.J. Sternberg and K. Weiss, The New Psychology of Love, Chapter 2.

b) D.M. Buss, (2006) “The Evolution of Love.” In, R.J. Sternberg and K. Weis (Eds.) The New Psychology of Love, chapter 4.

10/10 Session 10: The Biology of Love and Rejection

a)H. Fisher, (2006)“The Drive to Love: The Neural Mechanism for Mate Selection.” In, R.J. Sternberg and K. Weis (Eds.) The New Psychology of Love. chapter 5.

b)B. Fredrickson (2013) Love 2.0: How our supreme emotion affects everything we feel, think, do and become.New York: Hudson Street Press, chapters 1-3.

10/13 Session 11: Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love

(a)R.J. Sternberg, (1986) “A triangular theory of love” Psychological Review, 93, 119-135.

10/17 Session 12: Sternberg’s Duplex Theory of Love

a) R.J. Sternberg (2006) “ A duplex theory of love” In, R.J. Sternberg and K. Weis (Eds.) The New Psychology of Love. chapter 9.

10/20 Session 13: Cross-cultural Perspectives on Love and Courtship

a)H. Wardlow, “All’s Fair When Love is War” in, J.S. Hirsch and H. Wardlow, (2006) Modern Loves: The Anthropology of romanticcourtship and companionate marriage. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

b)C. Ngozi Adichie (2009) “imitation” in The Thing around your Neck. New York: Anchor Books. (or)

c)Jiayang Fan (2017) “China’s Mistress-Dispellers”, New Yorker, 6/26/17.

10/24 Session 14: Attraction and Coupling in Western Gay Culture

a)A.I. Green, (2012) “The Symbolic Power of Civil Marriage on the sexual life histories of gay men” In, L.M. Carpenter and J. DeLamater” Sex for Life: How Sexuality Changes Throughout our Lives. New York University Press.

b)Colm Toibin, (2011) The Empty Family. New York: Scribner, “Barcelona, 1975.”

10/27 Session 15-- Living Your Close Relationships On-line

a)Aziz Ansari (2016), Modern Romance, New York: Penguin Books.

Introduction, Chapter 2, “The initial ask” and Chapter 3, “On-line dating.”

10/31Session 16- Developing Intimacy by asking questions

a)Daniel Jones, “The 36 questions that lead to love”. New York Times,


b)Elaine Aron, “36 Questions for Intimacy, Back Story.”

c)Elaine Aron (2000) The Highly Sensitive Person in Love. New York; Broadway Books. Chapter 4, “Falling in love: Sensitivity and the Big Plunge.”

11/3 –Session 17- Guest Presenters

11/7- Session 18- Jealousy and the Lure of Other Lovers

a) Sarah Waters, (2006) The Night Watch, pp.13-23, 49-64, 146-164.

b)A.Levine and R. Heller, Attached. Chapters 8&9, pp. 153-182.

11/10- Session 19- Self-Care in Close Relationships

a)K. Neff, (2011) Self-Compassion. New York: William Morrow, pp.56-59.

b)K. Neff (2016) “The self-compassion scale.”

c)C. Gillgan (2002) The Birth of Pleasure, pp.40-56.

11/14 Session 20:Can Love Last? Love and Sexuality

a)S. A. Mitchell, (2002) Can Love Last? The Fate of Romance Over Time.

New York: Norton. Introduction, Chapter 2, ‘The strange loops of sexuality.”

b)E. Perel (2007) Mating in Captivity. New York: Harper. Chapters 1&2.

11/17 Session 21- How intimate relationships fall apart

a)J. M. Gottman, (1994) “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Warning Signs” in Why Marriages Succeed or Fail. New York: Fireside Book.

b)S.A.Mitchell (2002) Can Love Last? Chapter 4, “Aggression and the danger of desire.”

11/21 Session 22: Preparing for the final paper

11/28 Session 23 Positivity: The Positivity Ratio

a)B. Fredrickson, (2009) Positivity. New York: Three River Press, chapter 2.

b)B. Fredrickson, (2009)Positivity, chapter 7, “The Positivity Ratio.”

12/1 Session 24: How Negativity can Overwhelm Close Relationships

a)J. M. Gottman, (1999) The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. New York: Harmony Books, chapters 1,2.

12/5 Session 25: Building Positivity in Close Relationships

b)J.M. Gottman, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, chapters 3, 7-10.

12/8 Session 26: Students Share their findings from final paper

Required Books (to be purchased as paperbacks on-line or at Brandeis bookstore. Available at library reserve)

  1. McEwan, Ian. (2007). On Chesil Beach. London: Vintage.
  2. Waters, Sarah (2006). The Night Watch. New York: Riverhead Trade.
  3. Sternberg, R.J. and Weiss, K. (2006). The New Psychology of Love.

New Haven: Yale University Press.

  1. Fromm, Eric (1956/2006) The Art of Loving. New York: Harper Perennial.
  2. Gottman, Jon (1999). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. New York: Harmony Books.
  3. Aziz Ansari (2016) Modern Romance. New York: Penguin
  4. Levine, A. and Heller, R. (2011) Attached. New York: Penguin,

All other readings will be available through New Latte.

Course Requirements for Education 173

  1. Class attendance and active participation in class discussions.
  2. Reading the readings and completing up to 8 response papers in relation to those readings.
  3. Active participation in small groups and preparing questions on the readings when your turn comes to lead the group. More information will be coming.
  4. Four written assignments. They will be due on 9/19, 10/17, 11/10 and 12/8.More information on these assignments will be coming.


The course grade will be based on fulfilling these requirements:

  1. class attendance and active participation -10%
  2. leading the small group discussion -10%
  3. eight response papers- 15%
  4. four written assignments- 65%.

Success in this four-credit course will require of you at least 9 hours a week of study time. Though the time demands may vary, please allot this amount of time to complete the readings, prepare for small group discussion, complete the weekly response papers and the four written assignments.

If you are a student with a documented disability on record at Brandeis University and wish to have a reasonable accommodation made for you in this class, please see me immediately.

You are expected to be familiar with and to follow the University’s policies on academic integrity. All policies related to academic integrity apply to the response papers as well as the four written assignments. Allegations of academic dishonesty will be forwarded to the Director of Academic Integrity.