WEDNESDAY, Feb. 13 HealthDay News) -- On Valentine's Day, single men are far more likely than married guys to splurge on a loved one, a marketing expert from Harvard Business School says.
Compared to men who have already tied the knot, unmarried fellows run up a 50 percent higher tab on gifts professing their admiration and devotion, his new small study finds.
"They are trying to signal their wealth to prospective partners," Michael Norton, an associate professor of marketing at Harvard who has researched who spends what on Valentine's Day -- and why. Whether they are conscious of their intentions is unclear.
Studying 91 men and women, married and single, on the heels of Valentine's Day 2010, Norton found single men spent $81 on average. Married men shelled out $51 on average and single women $32. Married women parted with the least, just $20.
What's up with unmarried guys?
They need to let the woman of their dreams know they're solvent, tapping into women's longstanding attraction for wealthier men, regardless of their own wealth or lack of it, according to Norton. "I give, therefore I have," is the theme of his as yet-unpublished report.
But that's only part of the story driving pre-Feb. 14 purchases, according to Norton.
Besides asking about their Valentine's Day outlay, Norton asked participants to report what he calls their "subjective wealth" -- how well off they felt after spending on V-Day. They also revealed their monthly income and rated their satisfaction with the relationship.
Greater spending was linked with feeling wealthier, he found, even after taking into account the giver's income and relationship satisfaction.
That finding echoes the results of some of his other studies, Norton said, which found that donating money to charitable causes is likely to make people feel better off and, in turn, happier. The thinkin
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