Valentine’s Day was established in honor of three early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine, but today people celebrate romantic love or love more generally. Since romance is so salient on this holiday, people who are single can feel ostracized and sometimes motivated to support an anti-love mantra. I wonder if the second biggest Hallmark holiday is really worth the hype (either for or against). Is love or a partner really what makes people happy in life?
Perhaps one of the answers can be found by looking at one of the current hot topics in social psychology research: the intersection of emotion regulation and well being. A quick look at the latest program from the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology reveals numerous talks and posters on the topic of mindfulness and emotion regulation.
A recent paper points to the importance of the perspective from which people try to adaptively reflect on their feelings. According to Ayduk and Kross (2010), participants who analyzed negative experiences from a self-distanced perspective (versus a self-immersed perspective) were less likely to ruminate and reported less negative emotions. Maybe people’s affective experiences on Valentine’s Day have more to do with how they think about their lives and less about relationship status.
Ayduk, Ö. and Kross, E. (2010). Analyzing negative experiences without ruminating: The role of self-distancing in enabling adaptive self-reflection. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 4, 841–854.