Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Elliot Jurist

Committee Members

Diana Diamond

Lissa Weinstein

Michael Berzofsky

Elisabeth Young-Bruehl

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology


Social scientists continue empirically researching the psychology of romantic love. However, there is little attention spent evaluating the direction and nature of this work. In this theoretical study, the author argues that the research literature presents a limited view of romantic relationships. A contributing factor is the relative inattention to the interplay of conscious and unconscious mental processes in empirical models. The author examines the prevalent model of studying relationships for its assumptions about the accessibility of psychological states and the accuracy of participant reports. To support his case, the author reviews research that explores the limits of a psychology based on primarily conscious processes. The argument is made that a more comprehensive investigation of romantic love would involve an integration of conscious and unconscious processing and an expanded notion of rationality (as it pertains to romantic relationships).

In the second part of this study, the author suggests that psychoanalytic thinking can help inform psychological research into romantic love. Psychoanalytic theorizing is described as having a long tradition of exploring the subjective rationality and meaning that underlies the full range of romantic relationship motivations and experiences. The author presents the usefulness of psychoanalytic ideas, including a dynamic unconscious and object relations, to construct a framework to study love relationships. The study concludes with four guiding recommendations points (conceptual and methodological) for a future direction of romantic relationship research. These suggestions offer a way of understanding how people seek psychological compromise solutions to all their (at times conflictual) motivational aims in their romantic lives. The author's framework allows for investigating how this process not only occurs, consciously and unconsciously, but also intrapsychically, interpersonally and culturally.


Digital reproduction from the UMI microform.