Being in love reduces focus levels

Being in love reduces focus levels

A study by researchers at Leiden University suggests that being in love reduces cognitive control.

The research was made by a team from Leiden University and the University of Maryland, led by Henk van Steenbergen. 

Their findings - essentially, that being in love makes us less able to focus - are published in the journal Motivation and Emotion.

About the study

The test used 43 subjects, all of whom had been in a relationship for six months or less. Each participant began by completing a questionnaire rating the intensity his or her "love feelings."

In order to intensify their amorous feelings, participants listened to romantic music and were asked to think of a romantic event.

They were then each given a simple task which required them to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information.


The study showed that those who felt higher degrees of love were less efficient at distinguishing and ignoring useless information.

These findings were true for both men and women, suggesting that strong feelings of love affect the ability to focus in both genders.

Van Steenbergen reflects that "proper cognitive control" is typically low in the beginnings of most relationships: "When you have just become involved in a romantic relationship you’ll probably find it harder to focus on other things because you spend a large part of your cognitive resources on thinking of your beloved."

However he also notes that this "cause and effect" hypothesis could work the other way: "People who have reduced cognitive control may experience more intense love feelings than people who have higher levels of cognitive control."

Elzi Lewis


Elzi Lewis

Elzi swapped rainy Manchester for (rainier) Amsterdam a year ago, and has never looked back. Having just finished an MA at the University of Amsterdam, she is both excited and...

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