Valentine's Day Story Ideas from The University of Texas at Austin

University of Texas at Austin researchers are studying the science, psychology and business of love. In advance of Valentine's Day, faculty experts are available to discuss research that helps us better understand romantic relationships, which are so vital to human happiness and stability.

Here are some potential Valentine's Day story ideas that show how serious scholarship can help explain the mystery of love and romance  -- and how University of Texas at Austin scholars are breaking new ground in those areas.

The Science of Kissing
When did humans begin to kiss? Why is kissing integral to some cultures and alien to others? Do good kissers make the best lovers? And is that expensive lip-plumping gloss worth it? Sheril Kirshenbaum of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy tackles these questions and more in her book "The Science of Kissing."

Sheril Kirshenbaum
Research Engineering Scientist Associate
Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy, Jackson School of Geosciences
Public Affairs contact: Marc Airhart, Jackson School of Geosciences, 512-471-2241,

Romance in Today's Families
Today's families are a complex mix of divorces, remarriages, and single and actively dating parents. How do single or remarried parents find romance and how do their kids react? Edward Anderson's interests include understanding how divorced parents' dating and repartnering affects children and family relationships, how divorced parents balance the potentially competing demands of their personal and parenting lives, and how family members respond to and deal with conflict.

Dr. Edward Anderson
Associate Professor
Department of Human Development and Family Sciences
Population Research Center
Public Affairs contact: Lee Clippard, College of Natural Sciences, 512-232-0675,

How Family and Friends Affect Romance
When someone is falling in love and they talk to their friends about it, what effect does that have on that person and their relationship? The aptly named Tim Loving studies the mental and physical health impact of transitions in romantic relationships, with a particular focus on positive transitions (for example, falling in love) and the role friends and family members play as people in relationships adapt to these transitions. He runs a long-term research project called UT-DATES and provides advice on relationships and dating to anyone who asks on his Web site "Ask Dr. Loving."

Dr. Tim Loving
Associate Professor
Department of Human Development and Family Sciences
Population Research Center
Public Affairs contact: Lee Clippard, College of Natural Sciences, 512-232-0675,

Meet the Parents
College students want very different things in a long-term mate than their parents want for them. Evolutionary psychologists offer new insight into mate selection in an article in the journal Personality and Individual Differences that compares the students' and parents' rankings. The students are more focused on attractiveness and exciting personalities while their parents look for things such as healthiness and earning capacity.

Carin Perilloux
Doctoral candidate
Department of Psychology
Public Affairs contact: Gary Susswein, College of Liberal Arts, 512-471-4945,

Logic Versus Emotion in Internet Dating
Marketing Professor Raj Raghunathan recently spoke about "Consumer Buying Decisions: Logic Versus Emotion" at the annual Internet Dating Conference, which brings together the online dating industry to talk about technology, marketing and management. His work juxtaposes theories from psychology, behavioral sciences, decision theory and marketing

Raj Raghunathan
Associate Professor of Marketing
McCombs School of Business
Public Affairs contact: Dave Wenger, McCombs School of Business, 512-471-3314,

Speed Dating and Psychology
Recent research about how two people's language styles can predict their romantic compatibility stemmed from a series of speed dating sessions that psychologists held in their labs. Molly Ireland is available to talk about how these forums designed to help people find love can also contribute to scientific discoveries.

Molly Ireland
Doctoral candidate
Department of Psychology
College of Liberal Arts
Public Affairs contact: Michelle Bryant, College of Liberal Arts, 512-232-4730,