Valentines Day thoughtfulness has intrinsic rewards, says University of Rochester professorFebruary 1, 20191 min read
We’ve all heard that it’s better to give than to receive. When it comes to Valentines Day, there’s empirical evidence to show that being thoughtful to a spouse is rewarding in and of itself.
A 2017 study by University of Rochester Psychology Professor Harry Reis shows that when we show compassion toward our partner—when we put aside personal wishes in order to meet the partner’s needs—it makes us feel better, even if—and this was a surprise—those acts of compassion go unrecognized by the recipient.
Over the course of 14 days, husbands and wives reported giving and receiving an average of .65 and .59 compassionate acts each day—with husbands perceiving more such acts than did their partners. The acts included such things as changing personal plans for the partner’s sake, doing something that showed the partner was valued, and expressing tenderness for the spouse.
For Reis, the results suggest that acting compassionately may be its own reward, or in this case, its own Valentines gift.
Professor Reis’s research interests involve social interaction and close relationships. He studies the factors that influence the quantity and closeness of social interaction, and the consequences of different patterns of socializing for health and psychological well-being.
Harry Reis Professor of Psychology and Dean's Professor in Arts, Sciences, and Engineering
Professor Harry Reis' research interests involve social interaction and close relationships.