Valentine's Day poll affirms the power of love

Feb. 13, 2013 @ 05:13 PM

The cynics among us believe Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday, purely the invention of those who stand to profit from it.
The scientist among us, however, says not everyone feels that way.
“The majority of those polled still feel that presents are an important and beneficial part of the holiday,” said Sadie Leder, associate director of the HPU Poll at High Point University.
The poll, which sampled 660 adults in North Carolina, gauging their feelings about Valentine’s Day and the larger issue of love, found the majority see gift-giving as a positive part of the holiday.
“Although we do not know what types of gifts North Carolina residents will be giving this Valentine’s Day, psychological literature suggests that such tokens are a symbolic means for communicating care and commitment,” Leder said.
Specifically, 60 percent of those surveyed said the gift-giving aspect is a positive aspect of Valentine’s Day, while only 27 percent described it as negative. Five percent said it was neither positive nor negative, another five percent said it was positive and negative, and three percent either responded that they didn’t know or they refused to answer.
“There was a lot of overall positivity toward the holiday, which is great to hear,” Leder said. “Sometimes people refer to Valentine’s Day as a ‘Hallmark holiday,’ but we found that a majority of people like the gift-giving aspect of the holiday.”
Leder, who is also an assistant professor of psychology at HPU, specializes in the study of close relationships, specifically focusing on the dynamics of romantic relationships. She teaches two related classes — “Love and Hate in Cyberspace” and “Close Relationships.”
She also writes for Science of Relationships, a website on which researchers write about relationships from an academic perspective — based on actual scientific research — but without using the stilted sort of writing you’d find in academic journals.
“It’s kind of a rebuttal to the pop culture you see on TV and in magazines,” she said. “When you think of relationships, you tend to think of Cosmo polls or Women’s Wear Daily, but this gives people access to more credible information. We try to find ways to make our information relatable to people who are interested in learning about relationships.”
According to Leder, the HPU Poll showed little difference between men and women’s views of the gift-giving aspect of Valentine’s Day. Neither sex found the holiday particularly stressful either, despite the perceived obligation to buy the right gift for a significant other.
“It appears that the general sentiment of the people we polled is that Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate their affection and show their appreciation for loved ones,” she said.
jtomlin@hpe.com | 888-3579