PulSe PointS Americans Agree on What It Means to Feel Loved ust in time for Valentine’s Day, researchers at Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development have discovered that people in the U.S. largely agree about what makes them feel loved, coming to a general consensus that it may be small gestures that matter most. In a study originally published in August of 2017, researchers found that small, non-romantic gestures—like someone showing compassion or snuggling with a child—topped the list of what makes people feel loved. Meanwhile, controlling behaviors—like someone wanting to know where they were at all times—were seen as the least loving. These gestures and behaviors also apply in non-romantic settings and, in the workplace, attribute to gestures of appreciation and trust. The study results could give insight into how love affects people’s overall well-being. “Whether we feel loved or not plays an important role in how we feel from day to day,” said Saeideh Heshmati, a postdoctoral research scholar working on the study. “We were curious about whether the majority of Americans could agree about what makes people feel loved on a daily basis, or if it was a more personal thing. Our results show that people do agree, and the top scenarios that came back weren’t necessarily romantic. So, it is possible for people to feel loved in simple, everyday scenarios.” The researchers recruited 495 American adults to answer a questionnaire about whether or not they thought most people would feel loved in 60 different scenarios. The situations included positive actions, like being greeted by a pet; neutral scenarios, like feeling close to nature; and negative situations, like someone acting possessive. “People were more in agreement about loving actions, where there’s more authenticity perhaps, instead of a person just saying something,” adds Heshmati. Participants also agreed on what doesn’t make people feel J 16 PULSE ■ January/February 2018 loved. Behaviors that could be seen as controlling were ranked among the least-loving actions. “In American culture, it seems that controlling or possessive behaviors are the ones people do not feel loved by,” Heshmati said. “If someone wants to know where you are at all times, or acts controlling, those actions are not loving to us.” Depending on the type of culture you wish to project in your workplace, this research could easily apply to the way you treat your staff. Most Americans agree that acts of kindness and positive affirmations make them feel appreciated, so imple- menting this kind of positive culture could allow your employees to feel comfortable at work. On the flip side, controlling and overbearing behavior is seen as negative and can hinder the wellbeing of your employees. Being conscious of how your actions towards others are perceived could help you create the workplace culture you’ve been striving towards. n Feeling the ISPA Love To test the theory of the Penn State study, we conducted a fun poll in the ISPA office. We asked our ISPA team which of the following would make them feel more appreciated or loved in the workplace: l l l l l l Public recognition for a job well done in front of the rest of your team. Sincere acts of kindness and thanks from colleagues. Someone showing compassion in your time of need. Positive feedback via email. Small tokens or gifts. Listening and following through with your suggestions. The overwhelming winner of the poll was number two: sincere acts of kindness and thanks from colleagues, which is consistent with the findings of the study! Try this poll out on your staff to see what you can do to make your team feel more appreciated.