Saida Heshmati, Penn State University – Felt Love

What makes you feel loved?

Saida Heshmati, postdoctoral research scholar at Penn State University, looks into whether actions really do speak louder than words.

I am a postdoctoral research scholar in positive and Quantitative Psychology at Penn State University. I am interested in finding objective methods to measure complex cognitive and emotional behavior to examine the role of these emotional experiences in everyday psychological wellbeing. I am currently working on a project with Dr. Zita Oravecz on developing psychometric tools for longitudinal measurements of wellbeing in order to model the dynamics of wellbeing in daily life.

Felt Love


We all know what it means when we talk about love in the context of romantic relationships but do Americans agree on what indicators of feeling loved might be in their day-to-day lives? To answer this question, our research lab investigated whether there is a shared belief among the American people about feeling loved in everyday life experiences, from both romantic and non-romantic perspectives. We asked four hundred and ninety five American adults to answer a questionnaire about whether or not they thought most people would feel loved in 60 various scenarios that could potentially lead to feeling loved. These scenarios included positive actions, like “a child snuggling up to them”, negative actions, like “someone being possessive about them”, and neutral scenarios like “the sun is shining”.

We found that behavioral actions — rather than purely verbal expressions — were more agreed upon as indicators of love among the American population. For example, more people agreed that their pets greeting them or a child snuggling with them was more loving than someone simply saying, ‘I love you’.

Participants also agreed on what doesn’t make people feel loved. Behaviors that could be seen as controlling, like someone wanting to know where they are at all times, were ranked among the least loving actions.

Even though the results may reflect how the American culture in general feels about love, individuals still can and do have their own personal feelings about what makes them feel loved. This is why communicating to your loved ones about what makes YOU feel loved can assist in being more in tune with each other in your relationships.

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