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Home » Why We Love, Why We Cheat: Helen Fisher (Transcript)

Why We Love, Why We Cheat: Helen Fisher (Transcript)

Helen Fisher

Here is the full transcript and summary of anthropologist Helen Fisher’s TED2006 Talk titled “Why We Love, Why We Cheat.” In this talk, she explains the evolution of love, its biochemical foundations and its social importance.


Helen Fisher – Anthropologist

I’d like to talk today about the two biggest social trends in the coming century, and perhaps in the next 10,000 years. But I want to start with my work on romantic love, because that’s my most recent work.

What I and my colleagues did was put 32 people, who were madly in love, into a functional MRI brain scanner. 17 who were madly in love and their love was accepted; and 15 who were madly in love and they had just been dumped.

And so I want to tell you about that first, and then go on into where I think love is going.

“What ’tis to love?” Shakespeare said.

I think our ancestors — I think human beings have been wondering about this question since they sat around their campfires or lay and watched the stars a million years ago.

I started out by trying to figure out what romantic love was by looking at the last 45 years of the psychological research and as it turns out, there’s a very specific group of things that happen when you fall in love.

The first thing that happens is, a person begins to take on what I call, “special meaning.” As a truck driver once said to me, “The world had a new center, and that center was Mary Anne.”

George Bernard Shaw said it differently. “Love consists of overestimating the differences between one woman and another.” And indeed, that’s what we do.

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