For Immediate Release
January 6, 2012
Contacts: David Ottalini, 301 405 4076 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Maryland Loves Its Valentine's Experts - 2012 Edition
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The holidays may be over but love is already in the air. It's hard to miss the Valentin'es Day displays that are already going up in stores big and small. There's a reason for that. "Next to Christmas, Valentine's Day is the biggest holiday for greeting card retailers," says Associate Professor Janet Wagner, director of the Center for Excellence in Service at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. Wagner says that while some 80% of Americans report they send a card to their significant other, men do most of the gift buying. "Men who buy Valentine's gifts spend three to four times as much as women, on the average," she says.
And while adults happily exchange cards, the director of Maryland's Center for Children, Relationships and Culture - College of Education Professor Ken Rubin - says the exchange of Valentine's Day cards in the classroom or school can be troublesome. "There are distinctions that the sender can make that says to the recipient, 'I don't really like you.' For the 25 percent of students in a typical classroom who are openly rejected by other kids, this is more salt in a wound."
American Studies Associate Professor Sheri Parks says in many ways, relationships today are based on popular culture infused with a heavy dose of advertising. She says it's the way we measure ourselves during holidays like Valentine's Day. "For example, if there's no card that reflects how we feel, then we feel sad. The cards have become the benchmark for the day," she says. "If popular culture defines what counts as romance, and we accept that, then it says something about our relationships."
Assistant Professor of Psychology Kurt Gray oversees the Mind Perception and Morality Lab on campus. Along with research colleagues from other schools, he recently published a paper that looked at how men and women look at each other - clothed or not: "Simply focusing on someone's attractiveness, in essence concentrating on their body rather than their mind, makes you see him or her as less of an agent [someone who acts and plans] and more of an experiencer, " says Gray.
As for Baby Boomers - Associate Professor of Public Health Robin Sawyer - who is also the associate chairperson in the Department of Behavioral & Community Health - says "Today's 60 is yesterday's 40. Our sexuality has not ended." And he adds, "Boomers have an attitude that's very youthful, we are a positive generation. We ask 'Why shouldn't I?'"
The University of Maryland has a number of faculty experts who can talk about every aspect of Valentine's Day - from the economics of the day to the history of celebrating love going back to Roman times, the the impact of the Internet on love and romance. Please see our Valentine's Day 2012 list as a "Hot Topic" in our online and searchable database of faculty experts.
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