Given the recent Valentine’s Day holiday and EPPP studying being ever-present, the question begs: does being in love affect productivity?
Psychology Today’s Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S, reveals some interesting research results in This is Your Brain on Love.
He points out that love has a greater effect on us than anything else because it’s affect is like that of drug use:
“In fact, love has probably started more schoolyard fights, adult feuds, and outright wars than any other catalyst combined – money, alcohol, drugs, politics, sports, etc. And thanks to some brain-imaging research, we know why: Put simply, the effects of love on the brain are strikingly similar to the effects of drugs on it.”
People in love, specifically in the early stages (or what Weiss defines as limerence), often exhibit behaviors of obsession and addiction. Therefore, the early stages of romance may be a force distracting one from other things, such as EPPP studies.
Weiss goes into more detail about the similarities between our behavior on love and drugs:
“Perhaps the most interesting facet of the studies […] is that the parts of the brain most heavily affected by both limerence and love—the striatum and the insula—are also the parts of the brain most heavily affected by addictive drugs. Yes, that’s right, limerence and love have a great deal in common with cocaine and heroin. In fact, Dr. Jim Pfaus, lead author of the second and larger of the studies [which were in the Archives of Sexual Behavior], has stated, ‘Love is actually a habit that is formed from sexual desire as desire is rewarded. It works the same way in the brain as when people become addicted to drugs.’”
This is not to say that being in love is bad, even when it distracts you from other obligations. In fact, Weiss goes on to say, “As such, rather than qualifying as an addiction that needs to be treated, love is (for most people, most of the time) a joyful and life-affirming process.”
So, go ahead, buy the chocolate and flowers (they’re probably on sale now).