Researchers at Aalto University in Finland have designed 27 maps of how our bodies respond to feelings ranging from simple affection to parental or romantic love.
Study participants were asked to color silhouettes of their bodies based on where they had bodily feedback when they experienced a certain type of love. They were also asked how pleasant the feelings were, how physically and mentally intense they were, and how they related to touch.
Maps of how different types of love spread throughout the body.
As a result, the researchers concluded that all feelings of love are reflected in the same way in the head, but differ in how they spread throughout the body: for example, for one participant the sensation spread to the chest, while for another it spread throughout the body.
“As we move from types of love with more intense experiences to types with less, the sensation in the chest area becomes weaker,” said Pärttili Rinne, lead author of the study.
Love feelings are felt most strongly in close (including romantic or sexual) relationships, researchers say. Also, romantic, sexual or parental feelings predominate in sympathy for strangers. Love for abstract concepts, such as moral love or love for wisdom, was felt weaker.
Researchers have also noticed a correlation between the physical and mental feelings caused by love.
“It was interesting to find a strong connection between the physical and mental intensity of an emotion and how pleasant the feeling is. The more strongly a type of love is felt in the body, the more strongly it is reflected in the mind and the more pleasant it is,” Rinne said.
In a preliminary 2013 study, about 700 volunteers from Finland, Sweden and Taiwan were asked to identify areas on empty silhouettes of bodies that stimulated or deactivated one of 14 emotions, including anger, disgust, fear, sadness, surprise, pride and envy. Combining data from both studies, the researchers found that love and happiness caused activity in almost the entire body, while depression had the opposite effect, suppressing sensations in the arms, legs and head. Danger and fear created strong sensations in his chest, and anger was one of the few emotions that activated his hands.
Maps showing regions of the body that increase in activation (warm color) or decrease (cool color) during the experience of each emotion.
In 2018, Finnish researchers mapped 100 subjective human feelings from data from more than 1,000 participants and found that they fell into five main categories: positive and negative emotions, cognition, physical conditions and illness. Scientists have found a strong correspondence between a feeling and its corresponding bodily sensations, as well as similarities between mind and body feeling maps across different subjective sensations. In addition to suggesting that conscious feelings come from bodily feedback, the results have improved our understanding of how bodily conditions and illnesses influence well-being.
Maps of feelings with areas highlighted in separate colors, where each feeling is associated with statistically significant bodily sensations
The current study notes that there are significant differences between types of love and should not be isolated as a single, separate emotion.
The study was published in the journal Philosophical Psychology.
Source: Aalto University, New Atlas