The Evolutionary Theory of Love: Definition, Examples & Predictions

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Ending Relationships, Disengagement Strategies & the Detachment Process

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:05 Evolutionary Theory
  • 1:48 Predictions of Attraction
  • 3:12 Predictions of…
  • 4:54 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Erin Long-Crowell

Erin has an M.Ed in adult education and a BS in psychology and a BS in management systems.

In this lesson, we define and discuss evolutionary psychology's theory of love. We also examine the theory's predictions when it comes to differences between a male and female's motivation behind attraction, promiscuity, and jealousy.

Evolutionary Theory

Imagine that first time when Cinderella and Prince Charming caught sight of each other. According to the popular version of the fairy tale, they fell instantly in love and had the night of their lives dancing together. Fast forward past the spell-breaking and interference from the stepmother and our lovers were married and lived happily ever after.

But what actually made them fall in love? Was it fate? Did heart recognize heart? Or was it just physical? Maybe Cinderella and Prince Charming fell victim to simple biological urges that made them want to procreate. This may seem crude; after all, we have control over our biological urges and won't love someone just because that person will help us have more babies, right? Well, according to evolutionary psychology, that's exactly why we love someone.

The evolutionary theory of love proposes that love functions to attract and retain a mate for the purpose of reproducing and then caring for the resulting offspring. In other words, our ultimate goal is successful reproduction, and the feeling of romantic love that we experience is merely a tool to help us reach that goal. Love connects us with another person in order to increase our chances to successfully have and raise children.

Additionally, this theory proposes that although we have the same ultimate goal, males and females have different reasons for choosing a particular mate. It predicts differences in behavior regarding attraction, promiscuity, and jealousy.

Predictions of Attraction

We've previously discussed the figures that are considered the most attractive by both men and women. Men desire a woman with an hourglass shape, which represents the peak of health and fertility, while women desire a man with a 'V' shape, which represents strength and dominance. Again, evolutionary psychology suggests that we are basically slaves to our biological urges - that our connections with the opposite gender are all about preserving life and ensuring the continued existence of our species. Therefore, men are attracted to women who can produce the most offspring, and women are attracted to men who have the resources to best care for that offspring.

For example, this theory suggests that Cinderella would have been attracted to Prince Charming because he would have invoked feelings of safety and security. He was not only handsome but had resources, such as wealth, that would provide her and potential offspring with a better life. As for Prince Charming being attracted to Cinderella, it would have been simply because she was the most beautiful; she had a youthful, fertile look about her that suggests she would be an excellent vehicle to produce heirs.

Predictions of Promiscuity and Jealousy

Beyond attractiveness that draws two people together, what does evolutionary theory predict will happen once a couple actually commits to a relationship? It may seem that because the theory suggests that two people love each other for simple reproductive reasons, it wouldn't matter if either partner cheated. With no intense, emotional love as we know it what would be the harm?

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account