Women buy more gifts than men for Valentine’s Day, even though men spend more money for their significant other, according to a study conducted by UT professor.
Angeline Close, an assistant professor of advertising, conducted research on this topic over a seven-year period for her doctorate. Eventually she realized that while men will spend more on gifts for a significant other, women buy for more people, so their expenses are similar.
“Most companies tend to focus on the male because they have a market obligation,” Close said. “Women spend at least the same, if not more, because we conceptualize love in a much broader way than just romantic.”
Total spending for Valentine’s Day is projected to reach $18.6 billion, according to the National Retail Foundation. Men are expected to spend an average of $175.61 on gifts for their significant other, while women will spend an average of $88.78 to celebrate with their partner.
The foundation did not release information on how much money women and men spend on Valentine’s Day overall, including platonic purchases, which is where Close said women spend more than men.
“Women receive cards and send small gifts to girlfriends, mothers, grandmothers, sisters and to a lesser extent, colleagues and neighbors,” Close said in the book “Gender, Culture and Consumer Behavior.” “These gender-based expectations and behaviors evolve over the course of a lifetime, and roles develop along with the person as she matures into womanhood and motherhood.”
Close also found that most subjects had conflicting feelings about Valentine’s Day. Most debate and discussion about Valentine’s Day occurs the week of the holiday, Close said, although she found that many of her subjects had pent up emotions about the event.
“The most ironic twist of all of my research — although it is the holiday of love — there is a lot of resistance to it because of the commercialization of what is supposed to be a natural human emotion,” Close said.
Sociology professor Debra Umberson said Close’s findings fit with what is known about gender roles within relationships because women tend to have lots of people they confide in, whereas men usually only confide in their spouse.
“Women just have more close relationships than men do,” Umberson said. “Women are the kin-keepers. So if they have kids, women are the ones who are going to maintain family ties and organize family gatherings.
Journalism sophomore Michael Aaron said that while he didn’t know if Close’s findings reflect gender roles, the results make sense to him.
“So usually I would only buy a Valentine’s Day gift for a significant other. But I can attest to the fact that women would probably spend more, because my mom always buys things for me and my two brothers and my dad,” Aaron said.
In a nutshell women are thoughtful, Umberson said.
“They don’t just do it on Valentine’s Day, they do it all year long,” Umberson said. “Whereas men do it when someone tells them to, like on Valentine’s Day.”