Love Schemas, Preferences in Romantic Partners, and Reactions to Commitment


  • Elaine C. Hatfield
  • Theodoris Singelis
  • Timothy Levine
  • Guy Bachman
  • Keiko Muto
  • Patricia Choo


Researchers have proposed that people possess different love schemas and that these schemas may shape romantic preferences and reactions to impending commitments. In Study 1, we tested two hypotheses: Hypothesis 1: Men and women will prefer potential dates who possess an “ideal” love schema (i.e., the secure). Hypothesis 2: If the ideal is unavailable, men and women will prefer potential dates whose love schemas are similar to their own. In order to test these hypotheses, men and women from the University of Hawaii, who varied in love schemas, were asked to indicate their preferences for potential romantic partners who varied in physical attractiveness, body type, and love schemas. It was found that people did indeed prefer the ideal (the secure) and (secondarily) those who were similar to them in attachment style—be it clingy, skittish, casual, or disinterested. Study 2 was designed to test Hypothesis 3: Participants’ love schemas will shape their cognitions, feelings, and behaviors when they find themselves on the brink of making a serious romantic commitment. In order to test this hypothesis, men and women from the University of Hawaii were surveyed. Again, as predicted, it was found that the more strongly men and women endorsed the secure schema, the more calm and confident (and the less fearful and trapped) they felt when confronting pending commitments. The more strongly they endorsed the clingy, skittish, fickle, casual, and uninterested schemas, the less confident and calm and the more fearful and trapped they felt when confronting an impending commitment.