Close this search box.

The Science of gift giving

by Jericho Zafra

GIVING gifts could be one of the holiday season’s most exciting yet frightening parts.

For gift givers, the fear of not getting appreciation is disappointing

For receivers, the anxiety to reciprocate the effort done is one of the first things to come to mind once the gift is accepted.

Givers send gifts they think receivers will ‘use’

The best gifts are those whom givers have thought of carefully — something the receiver would feel they are very much cared or thought of.

However, the main worry of giving gifts of sentimental worth: I may be wrong.

This inhibits gift givers from selecting the ideal presents, a study from The Journal of Consumer Psychology said.

So instead of giving a wrong “sentimental gift,” many just give gifts on what their recipient is known to like to use or what they call “preference-matching” gifts.

The study revealed that 45.86 percent of participants are more used to the preference-matching utility tradeoff than giving gifts with sentimental value.

“Under these circumstances, givers will likely feel relatively certain that a preference-matching gift (which, by definition, possesses superficial attributes the recipient is known to like) will be well-liked by the recipient,” it said.

Ask the recipients’ wishlist

According to Jim Gabriel, for the Christmas season, he opts to give presents that align with the recipient’s needs rather than being sentimental to “give more happiness.”

“As a giver, I prefer asking their wishlist than being sentimental because our needs change depending on the time and situation,” said Jim Gabriel in an interview.

He likewise said that if someone gives sentimental gifts, they have to ensure that there is weight and depth on the gift’s value and that there is an “ultimate connection” between the giver and the receiver not to fail the surprise.

“I think we should also evaluate the season; if it’s Christmas, it’s okay to give presents they wish to have. If it’s their birthday, I guess that’s the perfect time to be sentimental,” he added.

How much are your gifts?

Meanwhile, in a separate study conducted by Journal Business Research, the amount of money that customers spend on gifts is influenced by their emotional understanding (EU).

“Emotional understanding (EU) is the ability to understand the finer shades of emotions, how they are elicited, and the kinds of thoughts and intentions associated with them (appraisals); as such, EU is an important factor that drives gift giving,” said the authors.

In a study titled “Elucidating the Emotional and Relational Aspects of Gift Giving,” researchers said individuals with a greater EU are more likely to spend more money when purchasing gifts for others.

It said that the degree of relationship closeness between individuals helps mitigate the EU’s influence on gift expenditure. 

Some 63 representative samples with a median age of 21.13 years old participated in the study, the research said.

The final findings noted that customers with higher EU not only spend more money on presents but also report better satisfaction levels.

These findings shed insight into the significant impact that the EU has on the behaviors associated with gift-giving and, in turn, the well-being of the giver.

Gift-giving is a critical parameter because of the economic implications it has on marketplaces and the significant role it plays in maintaining social relationships and increasing life satisfaction, the study said.



We have the stories you’ll want to read.

RepublicAsia Newsletter