The relentless proliferation of conceptualizations and measures of love has limited progress towards assessing the effects of love on a multiplicity of well-being outcomes and on the ability to assess the determinants of love across settings. Our planning grant would enable the development of a full proposal aimed at employing longstanding philosophical and theological traditions on love to synthesize current knowledge, advance the field, and develop a new set of conceptually grounded measures. Aided by this synthesis, and a comprehensive review of existing survey instruments on love, our full proposal will develop new series of measures for the assessment of different forms of love across contexts that we hope will provide the foundation to initiate a formal epidemiology of love. The specific construct that will be examined related to love is the “disposition towards desiring the good of the other” where the intentionally ambiguous phrase “the good of the other” may itself be understood either as “good for the other” or as the “good constituted by the other.” We will refer to the former as “contributory love” (desiring the good of the other) and the latter as “unitive love” (desiring union with the other) (cf. Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I-II.26.4). In the planning grant, we will produce a philosophical article on the use of the word “love” in ordinary language, a description of results of a bibliographic social science review and a first-stage mapping of philosophical and theological literature, an item catalogue and categorization of items from prior measures, and the full proposal with input from our Advisory Board.
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