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Monday December 6th


UNC professor discusses scientific side of love

There is no such thing as unconditional love.

Or at least, according to psychology professor Barbara Fredrickson there is not.

In her presentation Wednesday at Ackland Art Museum, entitled “Love 2.0: It Pays to Upgrade,” Fredrickson rejected the idea of defining love as romantic, sexual desire, special bonds, commitment and soul mates for a more scientific, calculated approach.

She calls this modern approach “Love 2.0” — also the title of her novel published in January.

The talk is part of a monthly program the Ackland called Art for Lunch. The talk was also interwoven with the Ackland’s current exhibit entitled “More Love: Art, Politics, and Sharing since the 1990s.”

Fredrickson discussed the synchrony between modern art and modern psychology, her field of expertise.

A Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and currently a leader of the PEP Lab at UNC, Fredrickson said she has been studying the science behind love for nearly 25 years.

In her talk, she used works of art featured in “More Love” to make her point.

When discussing the psychological principle that eye contact triggers emotion; Fredrickson used Janine Anton’s “Mortar and Pestle,” which essentially is just a photograph of someone licking another person’s eye.

She made numerous ties to the exhibit in her speech, all of which she also investigates in her book “Love 2.0.”

Fredrickson also encouraged the importance of human contact on a day-to-day basis, describing it as a form of all-encompassing love — a definition that needed to be expanded.

Eye contact and smiles are key, she said.

“Smiles draw attention, more than any other emotion,” Fredrickson said.

“Let’s take back the smile and make it human again, versus the marketing tool it has become.”

Fredrickson concluded her talk on modern love — the supreme emotion of them all — by defining it from a psychological standpoint.

“Love is micro-moments of positivity resonance and a steady stream of moments like these, which will lead to a longer, healthier life,” Fredrickson said.

Many members of the UNC community including residents, professors, and students alike were present at Fredrickson’s Art for Lunch talk, as well as a few Durham residents.

Melissa Mills, a professor at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Duke University said she heard about Fredrickson’s talk from her student, Sue Tideman, who was also present.

Both said they enjoyed the opportunity to hear Fredrickson talk and experience “Love 2.0” with her as well, Tideman said.

“This talk reinforced how important it was to appreciate the good moments; to look my dog in the eyes, and my cats, and the grocery store attendant, because those moments of positive resonance are priceless,” Mills said.

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