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Expert Alert: The Science of Love

Stock photo of one red heart surrounded by all black hearts
January 28, 2020

As thoughts turn to romance, one UMD professor is digging deeper and uncovering some surprising facts about the science of love.


Assistant Professor Ashley E. Thompson has researched three important aspects of relationships: attitudes around romance, infidelity, and kissing.

The attitudes and judgements relating to romance:

UMD's Ashley ThompsonAshley Thompson, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, has noticed that messages regarding romantic relationships shape our feelings and dictate what’s “normal.” 

“This can result in the stigmatization of individuals violating these norms, and highlights the need to develop and promote educational programs that inform the public about romantic relationships between two or more people.”

What happens when there’s infidelity in a relationship?

What’s the best way to deal with the aftermath? Dr. Thompson’s work reveals what couples should be talking about. 

“It’s important for couples to discuss what monogamy and infidelity means in an effort to prevent infidelity. However, if a couple does happen to struggle with the aftermath of infidelity. Perhaps approaching the relationship with a growth mindset can promote forgiveness and ultimately a long-lasting relationship.”

Why do we kiss?

What function does it serve? In Dr. Thompson’s research, she discovered that people kissed for two primary reasons: relational reasons and goal attainment reasons. “Although not all kisses may sweep us off our feet, they serve an important purpose and are far more important than we perhaps realized.”

Contact information

Ashley Thompson

@PsycAshley on Twitter