The author investigates whether empathy constitutes the main dimension of the representation of love. The participants were acquainted with two tales telling of the beginning of a love story. The experimental group integrates discursive marks showing the empathic ability of the speaker towards his/her partner. No such marks of empathic ability existed in the control group. The participants assess the more or less prototypic nature of love in these two stories. The results show that a story is acknowledged as being more representative of love when the speaker is empathic than when he is not; but also that a dimension of inter-sex rivalry may modify this process: when the impression of intenseness of love expressed by the story decreases, empathy is only perceived positively when it testifies to the mastery of the relationship by someone of the same sex as the participant.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.