According to Gary Chapman’s theory of love languages, different people need different things in order to feel loved. Some people will feel most appreciated when they spend quality time with their loved ones, while others prioritize physical touch, and still others need words of affirmation in order to feel truly cherished. Show your affection to your partner in their preferred manner, the theory goes, and it will go a long way toward reducing conflict.
But while it’s undoubtably true that one person’s charming weekend getaway gift is another person’s stress-filled organizational quagmire, a new study suggests that—among Americans, at least—there’s a fair amount of consensus around which gestures are most likely to make people feel loved.
In a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, researchers from Pennsylvania State University and the University of California, Irvine, asked 495 men and women in the US to complete an online survey that presented them with 60 different scenarios. Respondents were instructed to respond to statements about each scenario, such as, “Most people feel loved when someone is there to just listen,” with “True,” “False,” or “Don’t Know.” (Importantly, researchers asked the participants to answer based on how they thought a majority of people would feel—not based on their own personal emotional programming.)