Money can’t buy me love. . .or can it? People value both love and money. In many respects, the way we approach love is very similar to the way we approach money. Economic methods to studying relationships, such as Interdependence Theory, are often effective at describing how relationships function. There are, however, some distinct ways that relationships diverge from economics.
This course will explore several ways that money and love intersect. We will discuss how psychology defines love and money and why we value both. We will discuss how money influences relationships. This includes topics such as courtship, interdependence, marriage, conflict, and divorce. Students explore everything from psychological theory to market analyses affected by love. Students will be encouraged to apply theory to pragmatic goals.
• Research project: Choose an object/experience that may change in value based on a relationship. Create an experiment that tests whether the value changes. Create the procedure and collect the data. (For example, take a photo of a ring. Half of the participants are told that the ring belongs to an engaged woman. Half are told that the ring belongs to a woman who is recently divorced. Ask all participants to estimate the value of the ring. Compare the results.)
• Interviewing relationship partners about how they feel thinking about relationships economically
• Debating whether economic theory works to describe loving relationships
• Business Plan: Create a business plan that applies psychological theories of love to a business idea. (For example, the theory of Need to Belong tells us that people need relationships even after they dissolve. Students could create a business marketing consolation gifts for relatives of those who are recently divorced. They would include a marketing analysis and why the business would fill a niche.)
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Baumeister, R. & Leary, M. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulleti, 117, 497-529.
Clark, M. & Mills, J. (2012). A theory of communal (and exchange) relationships. In P. Van lange, A. Kruglanski, & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of theories of social psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 232-250). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Sternberg, R. J. (2006). A duplex theory of love. In R. J. Sternberg & K. Weis (Eds.), The new psychology of love (pp. 184-199). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.