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Rev Eur Stud. 2016 Jun;8(2):1-7. doi: 10.5539/res.v8n2p1. Epub 2016 Mar 9.

Does Love Influence Athletic Performance? The Perspectives of Olympic Athletes.

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Department of Psychology, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, California State University, San Bernardino, USA.


In this brief report, we provide an initial account of the association between love and athletic performance from the perspective of Olympic athletes. We posit that Romantic Passionate Love (RPL) and athletic performance may both involve the reward-motivation system of the brain. Based on this premise, we explored whether activation in one domain (love) might influence the other (sport). Our investigation was framed using Sternberg's triangular theory of love. Twenty Olympic athletes representing different sports were interviewed at the Games. Most athletes (n = 15) reported that their performance was better while in love; however, qualitative responses suggested that the benefits were correlated with rather than resulting from RPL. Although the athletes were provided with a definition of RPL and affirmed that their relationship met the criteria, interview responses reflected companionate rather than passionate love, suggesting that RPL may be differentially conceptualized across cultures. The study provides preliminary data that may be used to inform and refine future work on this topic.


Olympic athlete; athletic performance; couple relationship; cross-cultural conceptualization; love; passion

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