Focusing too much on 'perfect' gifts ruins the present
A new study has found that while buying a gift, when people think too much about what the receiver desires and not what he or she finds useful they usually end up giving the gift they were trying to avoid in the first place.
The authors of the study explained that in a gift-giving situation, both the gift givers and gift receivers will focus on the gift receivers when thinking about the gift.
Givers will choose gifts that are more desirable over gifts that are more practical, whereas receivers will give greater weight to the gift's practicality, they said.
In a series of 8 classroom studies and an additional field study involving friends giving gifts to each other, the authors measured the tradeoffs between desirability and practicality in gift giver and gift receiver preferences.
Consider the gift giver who knows the gift receiver loves Italian food, but has to choose between a similarly priced restaurant gift certificate for a well-rated restaurant that is an hour away versus a medium-rated restaurant that is five minutes away.
The authors' research shows that the gift giver leans towards the fancier restaurant while the gift receiver would prefer to receive a gift certificate to the restaurant that is closer to their house.
"We show that givers think fancier gifts will cause them to be more liked, will show they care more, and will make their friends happier, but receivers actually think practical gifts will cause this," the authors conclude.
The study is published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
(Posted on 12-03-2014)