Ivory Towers: Love and the manic accountant

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ACCOUNTANTS are more manic lovers than philosophers, according to a recent study. 'Love-styles among university students in Mexico' (Psychological Reports, 1994, pp 307-310) is a report by J Leon, J Philbrick, F Parra, E Escobedo and F Malgesini on the differences in love-styles, as measured by questionnaire, among students at the Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahua and the Instituto Technologico de Chihuahua. 'Little work has been done in Mexico on this important topic,' they say.

They used a scale called the 'Sample-Profile', which had been translated into Spanish and tested by staff at the Instituto Mexicano Norteamericano de Relaciones Culturales in Chihuahua. This instrument consists of seven items on each of six scales: Storge, Agape, Mania, Pragma, Ludus and Eros.

'Storge' is the type of love characterised by concern, caring and long-term friendship; 'Agape' is forgiving, self-sacrificing and unconditional; 'Mania' is emotional, exciting and euphoric; 'Pragma' is cautious and deliberate; 'Ludus' is game-playing, competitive and exploitative; and 'Eros' is physical and sexual.

Subjects for the experiment were 146 students drawn from courses on accountancy, chemistry, philosophy and technical subjects. They were asked to rank each questionnaire items on a scale of 1 (little or no endorsement) to 5 (strongest endorsement), thus yielding a possible score ranging from 7 to 35 on each of the six scales. The relationship between scores is an individual's 'love-style profile'.

The results showed that Storge, Agape and Pragma were generally preferred to Ludus and Eros. The average performance on Mania was also pulled down heavily by the philosophers, who seemed, compared with accountants, chemists and technicians, to be relatively insulated from the alternating euphoria and depression of emotional infatuation. The philosophers, however, were also the lowest scoring on Eros.

Chemists admitted to the most erotic love-styles, but the highest score of all was the accountants' Pragma rating, one characterising property of which is given as 'practical love, with a shopping list'.

Finally, also from Psychological Reports, we should like to draw attention to an interesting negative result. In 'Relationships of death anxiety and sense of humour' (1993, pp 1,364-66), James Thorson and E C Powell correlated responses to the 'Multidimensional Sense of Humor Scale' and the 'Revised Death Anxiety Scale' given by 426 persons aged between 18 and 90. The former measures four scales: humour generation, coping humour, appreciation of humour, and appreciation of humorous people. The other questionnaire measures fear of death.

The overall results showed only slight relationships, though, as expected, high coping humour was associated with lower death anxiety. Humour generally increased with age. They conclude: 'We all will certainly die, but at least some of us can laugh about it.'