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Elaine Hatfield (formerly also known as Elaine Walster[1]) is an American social psychologist.[2] She has been credited, alongside Ellen S. Berscheid, as one of the pioneers of relationship science.[3] She is employed as a professor in the psychology department of the University of Hawaii.[4]



Hatfield received her BA in Psychology and English in 1959 from the University of Michigan and her PhD from Stanford University in 1963.[5]


Relationship science was Hatfield's first professional research focus, beginning at the foundation of her career in the 1960s with an emphasis on human attraction and the nature of romantic love.[1][6] In addition to Berscheid, she has conducted this research with a number of colleagues, including Leon Festinger, Elliot Aronson, first husband William Walster, whom she met while at Stanford University,[7] Russell D. Clark,[8] and Susan Sprecher.[3] The "Passionate Love Scale" Hatfield and Sprecher developed in 1986 is one of the most widely used in the field.[9]

Hatfield's research in the area has not been without controversy—in 1975, the $84,000 grant she was awarded by the National Science Foundation became the focus of the first Golden Fleece Award for wasteful government spending by then United States Senator William Proxmire.[10][11][12] Due to Proxmire's campaign, the funding was rescinded.[12][13] Undaunted, Hatfield went on to write or co-write many books and papers based on her research, among them A New Look at Love, which won the American Psychological Foundation's National Media Award, and the often-cited Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality article "Gender Differences in Receptivity to Sexual Offers" (1989).[8][13]

In the 1990s, Hatfield and current husband, American historian Richard Rapson,[12] began researching emotional contagion: the process by which people's emotions are influenced by the demonstrated emotions of their companions.[14] In the 2000s, she presented alongside Katherine Aumer on the psychology of hate.[15]

Hatfield is a professor of Psychology at the University of Hawai'i and past-president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS). In 2012, the Association for Psychological Science (APS) gave Hatfield the William James award for a Lifetime of Scientific Achievement. In recent years, she has received Distinguished Scientist Awards (for a lifetime of scientific achievement) from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology (SESP), from the SSSS, and from the University of Hawai'i, and she has received the Alfred Kinsey Award from the Western Region of SSSS. Two of her books have won the American Psychological Association's National Media Award.

Personal lifeEdit

Outside of their research, in 1963 Hatfield and Berscheid, then professors at the University of Minnesota, challenged and overcame the University's prohibition against women on faculty dining in the university's Faculty Club.[16] Previously wed to William Walster,[7] she is currently married to Richard Rapson.[12]

Select bibliographyEdit

  • Berscheid, E. & Hatfield, E. (1969). Interpersonal attraction. New York: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-00560-3.
  • Hatfield, E., Walster, G. W., & Berscheid, E. (1978). Equity: Theory and research. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. ISBN 0-205-05929-5.
  • Hatfield, E. & Walster, G. W. (1985). A new look at love. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. [Winner: American Psychological Foundation's "National Media Award".] ISBN 978-0-8191-4957-2.
  • Berscheid, E. & Hatfield, E. (1978). Interpersonal attraction, (2nd ed.) Reading, MS: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-00569-7
  • Griffitt, W., & Hatfield, E. (1984). Human sexual behavior. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman & Co. ISBN 0-673-15057-7
  • Hatfield, E., & Sprecher, S. (1986). Mirror, mirror: The importance of looks in everyday life. New York: SUNY Press. [Winner: American Psychological Association's "National Media Award", 1986.] ISBN 0-88706-124-9
  • Carlson, J. G. & Hatfield, E. (1992). Psychology of emotion. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich. ISBN 0-03-055419-5
  • Hatfield, E., & Rapson, R. L. (1993). Love, sex, and intimacy: Their psychology, biology, and history. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-500702-6
  • Hatfield, E., Cacioppo, J., & Rapson, R. L. (1994). Emotional contagion. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-44948-0
  • Hatfield, E., & Rapson, R. (1996/2005). Love and sex: Cross-cultural perspectives. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon. ISBN 0-205-16103-0 Reprint: Lanham, MD: University Press of America. ISBN 0-7618-3232-7.


  1. ^ a b Sternberg, Robert J.; Weis, Karin (2006). The New Psychology of Love. Yale University Press. p. 180. ISBN 0-300-11697-7.
  2. ^ Etcoff, Nancy (2 February 2011). Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-307-77911-3.
  3. ^ a b Reis, Harry T.; Aron, Arthur; Clark, Margaret S.; Finkel, Eli J. (2013). "Ellen Berscheid, Elaine Hatfield, and the Emergence of Relationship Science". Perspectives on Psychological Science. 8 (5): 558–72. doi:10.1177/1745691613497966.
  4. ^ "Elaine Hatfield, PhD". University of Hawaii. Retrieved 6 June 2014.[self-published source?]
  5. ^ "Curriculum Vita". official site. Elaine Hatfield. Archived from the original on 20 June 2014. Retrieved 6 June 2014.[self-published source?]
  6. ^ McCormack, Patricia (1978-05-25). "Those popular love notions overhauled". Reading Eagle.
  7. ^ a b "Study of Love". Lakeland Ledger. 1978-08-03.
  8. ^ a b Voracek M, Hofhansl A, Fisher ML (August 2005). "Clark and Hatfield's evidence of women's low receptivity to male strangers' sexual offers revisited". Psychological Reports. 97 (1): 11–20. doi:10.2466/pr0.97.1.11-20. PMID 16279298.
  9. ^ McAnulty, Richard D.; Burnette, M. Michele (2006). Sex and Sexuality: Sexual function and dysfunction. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-275-98583-7.
  10. ^ Aukofer, Frank A. (December 8, 1999). "Proxmire honored for sharp eye on $: Taxpayers' group gives founder of Golden Fleece an award of his own". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3A. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
  11. ^ Severo, Richard (December 16, 2005). "William Proxmire, Maverick Democratic Senator From Wisconsin, Is Dead at 90". The New York Times. Retrieved October 31, 2007.
  12. ^ a b c d "Elaine Hatfield Collection". The Kinsey Institute. Archived from the original on 20 January 2015. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  13. ^ a b Ogas, Ogi; Gaddam, Sai (5 May 2011). A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the Internet Tells Us About Sexual Relationships. Penguin Group US. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-525-95209-1.
  14. ^ Hatfield, Elaine; Rapson, Richard (1998). "Emotional Contagion and the Communication of Emotion". In Mark T. Palmer and George A. Barnett (ed.). Mutual Influence in Interpersonal Communication: Theory and Research in Cognition, Affect, and Behavior. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 73. ISBN 978-1-56750-347-0.
  15. ^ Herbert, Wray (23 May 2014). "The Anatomy of Everyday Hate". Huffington Post. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  16. ^ Ogas, Ogi; Gaddam, Sai (5 May 2011). A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the Internet Tells Us About Sexual Relationships. Penguin Group US. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-525-95209-1.