Valentine’s Day gifts position men as heroes, says Rice U. expert


Jeff Falk

 Valentine’s Day gifts position men as heroes, says Rice U. expert

HOUSTON – (Feb. 12, 2019) – A new survey finds men spend more than women and they’re more willing to rack up credit card debt for Valentine’s Day gifts.

Credit: 123RF/Rice University

In fact, research shows that some behaviors tend to align with and reinforce people’s gender identity – and that includes Valentine’s Day gift-giving behavior, according to a marketing and customer relationships expert at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business.

“It is well known that men have assumed the societal role of taking on more of the gift-giving burden on Valentine’s Day,” said Constance Porter, an assistant professor of marketing at Rice Business. She is available to discuss the phenomenon with the media.

“(Men) spend more and are more willing to go into debt to do it,” Porter said. “Doing so could help some men reinforce their sense of male identity and help them express this identity with others.”

The people they’re trying to impress include not only the gift recipient, but also anyone who hears the story about what they gave their special person on Valentine’s Day, Porter said.

“The gift-giver becomes the hero in all of those stories, and that makes him feel great about himself and look good to everyone in his orbit,” Porter said. “In this way, the storytelling on the day after Valentine’s Day becomes just as important and ritualistic as the actual day.”

Men are also more likely than women tend to seek help from salespeople when shopping for a gift, Porter said.

“So, if that happens with the Valentine’s Day gift, that could explain why men spend more,” Porter said. “The salesperson could exert influence on men to show their love in a manly way by spending a lot on the gift.”

To schedule an interview with Porter, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at or 713-348-6775.

Rice University has a VideoLink ReadyCam TV interview studio. ReadyCam is capable of transmitting broadcast-quality standard-definition and high-definition video directly to all news media organizations around the world 24/7.


Follow the Jones Graduate School of Business on Twitter @Rice_Biz.

Follow Rice News and Media Relations on Twitter @RiceUNews.

Related materials:

Porter bio:

Jones Graduate School of Business:

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.