The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday June 26th

Pit Talk

You don't need a valentine to find love

Whether or not you have a valentine today, you better look out for love.

Barbara Fredrickson, director of UNC’s Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory or PEPLab, redefines love in her new book Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become.

Fredrickson said most people think of love in terms of romance, friends and family, but that this view limits the scope of love — which can happen with anyone.

“Certainly our romances and intimate relationships might be the most intense and memorable forms of positivity resonance,” Fredrickson said. “But over and over again the science of positive emotions and positive psychology has pointed out that the milder, very frequent forms (of love) are perhaps more consequential for your daily health than the once-in-a-lifetime fall in love versions.”

Pooling her own research in UNC’s PEPLab with others’ research, Fredrickson redefines love as micro-moments of positive connection between people. She says the health benefits of these micro-moments range from improvements in cardiovascular health to well-being.

Fredrickson said Love 2.0 is split into two sections. In the first, she explains the science behind her definition of love. The second part offers practices for finding love’s benefits in everyday life.

Fredrickson compared the benefits of love to the benefits of eating your vegetables every day.

“We need a daily diet of these micro-moments of connection,” Fredrickson said. “And it’s easier to get them if you have the lenses that you’re on the lookout for them.”

Elise Rice, a graduate student working in the PEPLab, said something that might resonate with readers is the idea that people can experience this version of love with anyone.

“So if you don’t have a valentine or whatever, you can still be connected in a way that’s healthy, and you can get these benefits,” Rice said. “And I think that’s a really cool idea.”

Fredrickson said those who do have a valentine should focus more on shared experiences than on material things. Those who don’t have a valentine should know that micro-moments of connection can happen in any interaction — and those interactions can benefit your daily health.

Love 2.0, which has received much media attention, was recently featured on Oprah.com as one of winter’s life-improvement books to read.

Tanya Vacharkulksemsuk, a graduate student whose research in the PEPLab contributed to certain ideas in Love 2.0, said the recognition is an honor for Fredrickson and for those who work in PEPLab with her.

“In social psych, we call it basking in reflective glory,” Vacharkulksemsuk said. “It’s like were basking in her glory just as the people who have been involved with the research.”

Fredrickson said she saw writing the book as an extension of her teaching at UNC, where she teaches both undergraduate and graduate students.

“I’m really passionate about helping readers who aren’t scientists also be able to benefit from the science,” Fredrickson said.

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