Ron Riggio
2 min readFeb 15, 2023


Valentine Wishes from Psychologists

Happy Valentine’s Day and a history of psychology lesson

How much do you know about famous psychologists (and love)?

The early history of psychology is often studied through the work of famous psychologists.

Psychologists such as B.F. Skinner (Behaviorism) and Ivan Pavlov (Classical Conditioning) are associated with schools of psychological thought.

A clinical psychologist friend sent me a humorous set of Valentine Day greetings that related to psychology. I thought that it offered some humor to celebrate the holiday, but also an opportunity to learn more about the history of psychology. Enjoy!

“You’re the only reward for me. Happy Valentine’s Day!” B.F. Skinner. Skinner (1904–1990) was one of the founders of the school of behaviorism. Behaviorism focused on the study of behavior, without considering thought, emotions, and mental processes. Through positive reinforcement (rewards) an individual could be conditioned to increase desirable behaviors.

“You make me drool! Happy Valentine’s Day.” Ivan Pavlov. Pavlov (1849–1936) known for classical conditioning. In experiments with dogs, he paired the presentation of food with the ringing of a bell, which caused the dog to salivate. Over time, the dog was conditioned and salivated every time it heard the bell.

“Let’s form a secure attachment. Happy Valentine’s Day!” Mary Ainsworth. Ainsworth (1913–1999) conducted research that focused on attachment styles, particularly the attachment that develops between a mother and an infant. Secure attachment was needed to promote healthy child development.

“You electrify me! Happy Valentine’s Day.” Stanley Milgram. Milgram (1933–1984) was known for his studies of obedience. In his infamous “shock experiments” participants continued to shock a helpless individual in an attempt to obey the directions of an experimenter (of course the shocks weren’t real, and both the victim and experimenter were actors).

“My heart is pounding. It must be love! Happy Valentine’s Day” Stanley Schachter. Schachter, who studied emotions and emotional arousal, was known for his “two-factor theory of emotions,” which argued that emotions were caused by physiological arousal and cognitive labeling. He was known for his “shaky bridge” study where participants met an attractive individual on a dangerous, and fear-arousing bridge. Those who met on the shaky bridge were more attracted to the stranger than those on a stable bridge. The emotional arousal led to the cognitive interpretation “it must be love!”

“Will you be my cloth monkey? Happy Valentine’s Day” Harry Harlow. Harlow (1905–1981) studied the attachment formed by monkeys, who were reared in isolation and presented with a wire-cage with a monkey’s face “mother monkey” or the same wire monkey covered with terry cloth. The infants who could cuddle the cloth monkey developed better due to the soothing presence of the cloth monkey mother.

“How do I love you? Let me check with Sternberg. Happy Valentine’s Day! Robert Sternberg (1949-) is known for his Triarchic Theory of Love, where he proposes three types of love: romantic, companionate, fatuous. He is better known for his research on intelligence.

Perhaps my favorite undergraduate class was History of Psychology, primarily because my professor would dress up as famous psychologists (along with appropriate accents) and present “his” or “her” theory of psychology. Happy Valentine’s Day!



Ron Riggio

Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College; Author; Consultant