Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • David C. BalderstonEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_394

Love is a powerful force that connects and energizes people. It has long been a theme of religions and literatures around the world. More recently, love has been studied by social scientists. This article surveys the major meanings of love, as used in various religions and in modern psychological thought.


Love means several different things. Other languages have two, three, or more words with different meanings, where English has only one, to use in many different situations. The authoritative Oxford English Dictionary describes over 30 uses of “love.” Like many writers, Scots poet Robert Burns (1759–1796) used literary devices to heighten the effects of his thoughts, e.g., “O, my luv’s like a red, red rose” – here, a simile to dramatize love’s power of attraction. In contrast, a modern definition strives for neutral objectivity: “Love is the creating and/or sustaining of the connections of mutual support in ever-widening ranges of significance” (Carothers 1968)....

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New YorkUSA