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15-02-2020 | Review | Uitgave 3/2021

Psychological Research 3/2021

Embodied self-other overlap in romantic love: a review and integrative perspective

Psychological Research > Uitgave 3/2021
Virginie Quintard, Stéphane Jouffe, Bernhard Hommel, Cédric A. Bouquet
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Bernhard Hommel and Cédric A. Bouquet have contributed equally to this work.

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Romantic love has long intrigued scientists in various disciplines. Social-cognitive research has provided ample evidence for overlapping mental representations of self and romantic partner. This overlap between self and romantic partner would contribute to the experience of love and has been found to be a predictor of relationship quality. Self-partner overlap has been mainly documented at the level of conceptual or narrative self, with studies showing confusion between one’s own and partner’s identity aspects, perspectives, and outcomes. But the self is not restricted to abstract, conceptual representations but also involves body-related representations, which, research has revealed, are linked to social-cognitive processes. In this article, we review the emerging evidence that romantic love involves not only a blurring of conceptual selves but also a reduction of the distinction between self and romantic partner at a bodily level. We discuss the potential function(s) of self-other overlap in romantic relationship at the level of body-related representations and consider possible mechanisms. We conclude with possible future directions to further investigate how romantic love engages embodied self-other representations involved in social interactions.

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