If the thought of including science and gift-giving in the same sentence causes a frown to crease your brow and lips, please listen up for a couple of minutes.
Perhaps you are of the mind that the intrusion of science would reduce gift-giving to a cold, clinical experience that douses every bit of the warm fuzzies for all involved. Nothing could be further from the truth. As studies have shown, this “science” makes gift-giving more enjoyable for both the recipient and the giver.
We’ve all been there. Spent hours wracking our brains, scouring the internet, or standing in a long check-out line to find the absolute perfect gift. But oh, it would be worth it to see the joy on the face of the recipient when the wrapping paper fell in crumples to the floor. But then, in an instant, every bit of holiday spirit evaporated when greeted with the less-than-thrilled, only-mildly-pleased look on the recipient’s face.
The sting hung around for a long time, didn’t it? And now with that memory revived, a bit of assistance from science doesn’t sound so cold and clinical, does it? Consider these tips for giving meaningful gifts that positively impact the gift-giving process on both sides of the equation.
Reader’s Digest suggests we put on our listening ears. “While you may think it is a great idea to surprise someone on your holiday list by giving them something you think is a meaningful gift, it is best just to get them exactly what they have told you.” According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, gift recipients are more appreciative when receiving gifts they have asked for.
“So, forget about what you think they want and get them what they have specifically requested,” suggests Cheryl S. Grant.
Kathleen D. Vohs, distinguished McKnight University professor, concurs. “If you’re aware of what someone wants — everyone in my family still makes a Christmas list, complete with hyperlinks — strongly consider heeding their wishes.”
Marketing scholars at Emory University and the University of Texas found being personally close to a recipient makes one especially inclined to ignore wish lists in favor of scoping out something “just right.”
“But going rogue in that way,” surmises Roys, “leads to presents that recipients like less than gifts they asked for, the study found. Unlike close friends, more distant acquaintances tend to give requested items, which make receivers happier.”
Research co-authored by Cindy Chan, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough’s Department of Management and the Rotman School of Management, and Cassie Mogilner, an associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles Anderson School of Management, studied gifting. When they looked at how relationships between a gift giver and recipient were affected, they found “experiential gifts” to be more effective from the recipient’s perspective at improving the relationship.
“The reason experiential gifts are more socially connecting is that they tend to be more emotionally evocative,” notes Chan. “An experiential gift elicits a strong emotional response when a recipient consumes it — like the fear and awe of a safari adventure, the excitement of a rock concert or the calmness of a spa — and is more intensely emotional than a material possession.”
IS it better to give than receive?
Two new studies by psychology researchers from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management say yes, it is.
“Repeated giving, even in identical ways to identical others, may continue to feel relatively fresh and relatively pleasurable the more that we do it,” writes psychology researcher Ed O’Brien from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Now see? Science does have pertinent info to apply to your holiday gift-giving. All of us here at RomAnalytics extend to you our warmest wishes for a happy and festive holiday season spent in the company of treasured family and friends.
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