Psychologist Robert Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love is made up of three
components: intimacy, passion, and decision/commitment (Feldman, 2011, p. 454). The
combination of these components creates eight types of love. Your assignment this week is
to “classify” love. Listed below are 20 famous or historical couples. Some of them are real
and some of them are fictional. Your assignment is to pick seven of these couples and
determine what type of love each couple has/had. Obviously, you do not know all the details
of these couples’ lives, but using information based on internet research and what you do
know or what is implied, give a brief description of the couple, and then describe the
components of their love and explain why this couple fits the type of love you have
classified them with. Some couples may have experienced multiple types of love-include
these as well. Your choices must include at least five different types of love.
Your paper should be approximately 3 to 5 pages in length making sure to follow APA
guidelines. Your grade for the assignment will be determined based on your explanation of
why you believe each couple exemplifies the type of love you chose for them (not on
whether you chose the correct type of love for that couple).
Andy Taylor and Helen Crump (TV show, The Andy Griffith Show)
Claire and Cliff Huxtable (TV show, Cosby Show)
Cleopatra and Mark Antony (Historical figures)
Coretta Scott and Martin Luther King, Jr. (Civil Rights Leaders)
Couple of your choice
Dharma and Greg (TV Show, Dharma and Greg)
Demi Moore and Bruce Willis (Actors)
Edith and Archie Bunker (TV Show, All In The Family)
Hillary Rodham and Bill Clinton (President and First Lady)
Jada Pinkett and Will Smith (Actors)
Jerry Seinfeld and Elaine Bennett (TV show, Seinfeld)
June and Johnny Cash (Country Singers)
Lucy and Ricky Ricardo (TV show, I Love Lucy)
Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI of France (Historical figures)
Michelle and Barack Obama (President and First Lady)
Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine de Beauharnais (Historical figures)
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward (Actors)
Peggy and Hank Hill (TV show, King of the Hill)
Prince Charles and Princess Diana (Current/Historical figures)
Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara (Gone With the Wind)
Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare characters)
Sam Malone and Diane Chambers (TV show, Cheers)
The Theory of Love illustrated through application to selected couples from real life, popular
culture and fiction
The field of psychology takes an incisive look at the human condition by highlighting behavior,
mannerisms and reactions that people have with an aim of finding a logical explanation for how
they come to be. Psychologists therefore direct their energies towards observing humanity while
maintaining an objective of providing a justification for these behaviors. One area that many a
psychologist have shied away from is the area of love. The fact that it is highly subjective to
different individuals makes it harder to predict. One scientist, Robert Sternberg took the road less
travelled and decided to focus his attention on the subject of love.
He formulated a theory known as the Triangular Theory of Love. This theory broke love down
into what Stenberg believed were its component parts. These are Intimacy, Passion and
Commitment. According to Stenberg (2013), the manner in which these components are
manifested relative to each other determine the type of love an individual is experiencing. These
forms of love are liking, compassionate love, empty love, fatuous love, infatuation, Romantic
love and finally consummate love. Liking is composed exclusively of intimacy. Companionate
love features intimacy and commitment. Empty love only has commitment. Fatuous love has
passion and commitment. Infatuation has passion. Romantic love has passion and intimacy while
consummate love has passion, intimacy and commitment.
In a bid to illustrate this point, several couples from reality as well as popular culture television
productions will be analyzed in an attempt to point out the type or form of love they exemplify in
accordance to Stenberg’s theory on the subject (Stenberg, 2013).
Barrack and Michelle Obama
This is the USA’s current first family. Their relationship seems to exhibit strong signs of
companionate love. This is largely based on the side of their friendship that makes it to the public
domain. The intimacy is seen in the close proximity they always have to each other while
commitment came out clearly during the time when Barrack Obama was campaigning for the
presidency during the first and second terms elections. She took to the stand in several instances
openly urging people to turn up for voting day in the second term elections. The recent
controversial incident touted as “The Obama Selfie” featured Michelle looking visibly annoyed
by the president’s closeness to the Danish Prime Minister further justifying the mention of
intimacy being a key component of their relationship.
Romeo and Juliet
This is a fictional couple and there is based on a Romantic Comedy by Shakespeare. They were
two teenagers who fell head over heels for each other despite their respective families not
supporting their union. In a twist of fate they end up committing suicide over each one’s belief
about the other’s demise. This relationsip can be said to be one based on fatuous love due to the
heavy presence of passion and commitment. Passion is seen in their strong desire to elope while
commitment is seen in the lengths they are willing to travel for the sake of their relationship.
Cliff and Clair Huxtable
This is another fictional couple were cast as husband and wife in the Cosby show. In the different
episodes they showed intimacy in their private conversation, commitment to each other as they
dealt with their children and also passion in their interactions in the home. By fulfiling all three
elements, they can be said to have been experienceing consumate love.
Hillary Rodham and Bill Clinton
This relationship can also be seen to have empty love. This is again brought about by the fact
that Hillary chose to stand by her husband during the Monica Lewinsky scandal in which the
then president Bill Clinton was found to have had improper relations with a white house intern.
They have also been seen together in the different humanitarean projects Bill is involved in. This
demonstrates commitment to a large extent.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana
This relationship had all the signs of intimacy and passion as seen in their public appearances
and photographs. The fact that they broke up indicates a lack of commitment by one or both
parties after their marriage indicates a lack of commitment. This then makes theirs a Romantic
Will and Jada Pinkett Smith
This relationship also appears to be consumate since it bears signs of all the three elements.
There have been rumors in recent days about their marriage being on the rocks but this has been
contradicted by their public displays of affection during their appearances in public thus the
presence of passion.They seem genuinely excited to be together and the fact that they have been
married for much longer than most Holywood couples clearly shows commitment and intimacy.
Dharma and Greg
This couple seems to have a romantic love relationship and this is seen in the fact that they get
married on the first date, an indication of passion and sudden commitment to each other. The
manage to maintain the relationship through their intimate moments which are repeatedly acted
out in the show.
Sternberg, R. J., Weis, K. (2013). Searching for love. Sociological Review, 27, 295-303.