What are our expectations for Valentine’s Day?

How do men and women differ in our preferences for a partner?

What love language do people prefer in times of need?


At Busara, we apply rigorous academic methodology to our research, often designing complex behavioral studies to identify the multiple behavioral levers at play in human decision-making. In addition to this type of work, we also love to collect data in a fast, agile and responsive way to gain an initial sense of results and to start a conversation. This is what we did around the theme of love and relationships, and ran a quick study on 331 university students from Nairobi aged 20-28, who received our survey link via WhatsApp. Some of our results are listed below, the rest are in the full report.

  1. What are people’s expectations of Valentine’s Day?

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Somewhat unsurprisingly, Valentine’s Day is mostly considered a romantic holiday by both men and women. However, more men qualify the holiday as “romantic” (44.9% vs 38.9% for women), and more women as “very romantic”. How did our participants draw the line between what is considered (normal) romantic and very romantic? For some “Romantic” might mean a restaurant date and a gift while for others, that same description would qualify as “very romantic”. We did not go into this level of detail for the study, but are still curious to learn more about this - email us to share your research design ideas!

2. What do people look for in a partner?

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  • The interest in shared interests is - how fitting - shared across both genders (29%).

  • Women (28%) care more about friendship than men (21%).

  • Women (10%) chose sensitivity as the second most important trait in a partner compared to men (3%).

  • Good looks appeal to men (15%) more than women (9%).

  • Men (25%) care more about intelligence than women (20%).

3. What love language do people prefer when they feel down?


Do you know your love language? This theory developed by bestselling author Gary Chapman states that just as languages differ across nations causing imperfect communication and a wide scope for misinterpretation, so does each individual have a “love language of choice”, through which they express and expect to receive love from their partner. A mismatch is the unknowing source of many an argument: “why did you bring me flowers when all I wanted was a hug / help in the house / to spend time with you / a card with a love note?!”. In this measure, the results differed widely across genders. When feeling down, women prefer physical touch compared to men, while men prefer words of affirmation compared to women.