Thursday, January 4, 2024

Reproductive Strategies and Romantic Love in Early Modern Europe

Reproductive Strategies and Romantic Love in Early Modern Europe. Mauricio de Jesus Dias Martins & Nicolas Baumard. Archives of Sexual Behavior, December 26 2023.

Abstract: In Western Europe, the Early Modern Period is characterized by the rise of tenderness in romantic relationships and the emergence of companionate marriage. Despite a long research tradition, the origins of these social changes remain elusive. In this paper, we build on recent advances in behavioral sciences, showing that romantic emotional investment, which is more culturally variable than sexual attraction, enhances the cohesion of long-term relationships and increases investment in children. Importantly, this long-term strategy is considered especially advantageous when living standards are high. Here, we investigate the relationship between living standards, the emotional components of love expressed in fiction work, and behavioral outcomes related to pair bonding, such as nuptial and fertility rates. We developed natural language processing measures of “emotional investment” (tenderness) and “attraction” (passion) and computed romantic love in English plays (N = 847) as a ratio between the two. We found that living standards generally predicted and temporally preceded variations of romantic love in the Early Modern Period. Furthermore, romantic love preceded an increase in nuptial rates and a decrease in births per marriage. This suggests that increasing living standards in the Early Modern Period may have contributed to the emergence of modern romantic culture.

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