Post Valentine’s Day, we look back at the day and chronicle the presents… a box of chocolates, a dozen roses, a dinner out. We gauge the feeling by the gift; if it was particularly meaningful (or expensive) then the giver must really love us!

What we are really talking about here is how we form an impression from another’s behavior. And since that’s where Point Taken’s work lives, we thought we might weigh in.

The impression you have formed may or may not be the intent of the giver. Their intent may not be equal to the impact of the gift. In the case of “love day”, maybe it’s the intent we need to uncover? How can we be sure that authentic, effective communication of our true feeling has been achieved?

Well, in all cases with a sender and a receiver, we need to understand how the message was coded to correctly uncode it. For example, does the amount of money spent on impressing one’s valentine correlate to more love? Not always. And what about the thought that was required – does more attention equal more love?

Often, the answer depends on which is in shorter supply – money or time? If someone allocates more of a limited resource, then the message is clearly that we are important. Think of a college student blowing their budget to buy roses – or a busy executive taking an afternoon off to focus on us. It’s less ‘difficult’ to give from your surplus (i.e. the executive buying expensive roses) than it is to give from your scarcity (the same exec taking time to plan and execute a Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt). This is why we are often happier with inexpensive presents that required thought and planning, as opposed to expensive presents that were a last minute, easy solution.

We hope you have had an amazing Valentine’s Day.