A study conducted by the University of Buffalo researchers says that our feelings of love can compel us to do harmful and sometimes violent things to other people, even when they have not afflicted us personally.
"Under certain circumstances, feelings of warmth, tenderness and sympathy can, in fact, predict aggressive behaviours," said the researchers.
Two neuro-hormones appear to be among the mechanisms contributing to the counter-intuitive response.
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"Both oxytocin and vasopressin seem to serve a function leading to increased approach behaviours. People are motivated by social approach or getting closer to others," said Michael J Poulin, associate professor of psychology.
The researchers conducted a two-part study consisting of a survey and an experiment. The survey asked people to report on someone close to them and explain how that person was threatened by a third-party.
Then participants described their emotions and reaction to the situation.
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"The results of both the survey and the experiment indicate that the feelings we have when other people are in need, what we broadly call empathic concern or compassion, can predict aggression on behalf of those in need," Poulin said.
The findings add that our response is because of love or compassion for those we care about, researchers added.
The study was published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.