Post-Valentine's Day Relationship Assessment

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New Poll from Heart+Mind Strategies Shows "That Special Someone" Not the Only Key to Happiness

Relationship Infographic

With the drama of Valentine’s Day weekend in the past, Americans can free themselves of the myopic focus on lovers. Both marrieds and singles have many relationships that make them happy, yet there is still some type of void—a relationship one longs for. When it comes to all the relationships in one's life, is the preverbal cup viewed as half full or half empty?

A new poll, released today by Heart+Mind Strategies finds more than half (57%) of Americans report someone outside of a significant other bringing them the most happiness in their life. While a significant other is the most common answer (43%), the rest of the top 5 may be surprising:

  •          Child (20%)

        •    Parent (9%)
        •    Pet (7%)
        •    Friend (7%)

These results mirror recent studies showcasing the importance and breadth of different relationships in one's live. In 2012, Heart+Mind Strategies conducted a national study for AARP to understand what happiness and well-being mean to people. Good relationships—including those with friends, family, even pets—were found to be the key driver of happiness. Similarly, the January 2014 HMS Spotlight found relationships to be the main focus of social media behaviors in the New Year.

Despite the variety of relationships in Americans' lives, nearly two-thirds (64%) still feel some kind of relationship void—a relationship they don’t currently have but want. Not surprisingly, the most common void is felt for a significant other (21%). Parent (12%) comes in second, the rest of the top 5 include:

        •    Friend (8%)
        •    Sibling (6%)
        •    Child (5%)

“Relationships are such an important part of life because they feed into so many different personal values,” said Dr. Jim Hoskins, Director of the Richard B. Wirthlin Values Center for Heart+Mind Strategies—who is not surprised that relationships are key drivers of happiness—he continued, “they help make us feel secure, they build our self-esteem, give us a sense of belonging, foster a sense of family love, create joy, and teach spirituality. Relationships have a significant impact on nearly all personal values we know to be major drivers of the choices people make in their lives.”

Where there are not voids, most Americans report wanting to improve current relationships—only one-third (33%) are satisfied with all the relationships in their lives. Again, significant others top the list (17%), but nearly one-third want to improve relationships within the family:

        •    Sibling (11%)
        •    Parent (11%)
        •    Child (10%)
        •    Friend (9%)

Relationships are complicated, but the data shine light on the promise they hold. Relationships are the major drivers of happiness—not just the one relationship with someone special—but the full suite of people one holds dear in life.

The year is full of holidays and commemorative days to honor the special relationships in our lives from mothers and fathers to bosses and secretaries. As the year rolls on, celebrate the relationship diversity that keeps your cup at least half full.

Cheers to that!

Click here for the full article with audience differences (men vs. women, singles vs. married people, etc.).
Click here to download the info graphic.


This report presents the findings of a survey conducted among a sample of 1,002 adults comprising 502 men and 500 women 18 years of age and older.

The online omnibus study is conducted twice a week among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,000 adults 18 years of age and older. This survey was live on January 20-22, 2014.

Completed interviews are weighted by five variables: age, sex, geographic region, race and education to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. population, 18 years of age and older. The raw data are weighted by a custom designed program which automatically develops a weighting factor for each respondent. Each respondent is assigned a single weight derived from the relationship between the actual proportion of the population based on US Census data with its specific combination of age, sex, geographic characteristics, race and education and the proportion in the sample. Tabular results show both weighted and unweighted bases.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. The data have been weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the 18+ population. Because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments.

About Heart+Mind Strategies (

We help clients understand the hearts and minds of the people that matter most to their enterprise; and we deliver the strategic decision making insight and advice to transform understanding into measurable success.

We are experts in human decision-making and its impact on marketing decisions and communications across industry and issue categories. We apply a rigorous framework and an experience-driven set of principles that have elected presidents and prime ministers, strengthened corporations, bolstered declining industries, and reinvigorated global brands.
This point of view illuminates:

  •     How and why people make the decisions they do
  •     How perceptual equity can translate into bottom-line equity
  •     The role and linkage of both reason and emotion in persuasion
  •     What it takes to build measurable value

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Gretchen Comey
Heart+Mind Strategies
+1 (571) 484-8083
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