Psychologists breakdown the science of gift-giving

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In a ScienceNews.com article, Sujata Gupta writes that Julian Givi, a seasoned marketing expert and psychologist from West Virginia University, has devoted a decade to studying gifting practices. His research delves into a fundamental aspect of gift-giving behavior: the often neglected disconnect between the desires of the gift-giver and those of the recipient. Contrary to popular belief, Givi found that many gift-givers prioritize their own desires — be it the pursuit of uniqueness, societal approval, or humor — over the recipient’s preferences when choosing presents.
 
Givi’s studies highlight how social norms significantly influence gift-giving faux pas. These norms, such as the emphasis on brand-new items, elaborate gift wrapping, or completing a gift set, sometimes conflict with the actual desires of the gift recipient. For instance, while givers might prioritize fancy wrapping or completion of a gift set, recipients might prefer a more thoughtful allocation of the same budget towards the gift itself.
 
Interestingly, Givi’s research underscores the significance of experiential gifts, indicating that people often opt for material gifts despite experiences being more likely to bring happiness to the recipient. Experiences not only tend to elicit more joy but also foster stronger connections between the giver and the recipient.
 
Ultimately, Givi’s extensive research underscores the intricate psychology behind gift-giving, shedding light on the importance of aligning the giver’s intentions with the recipient’s preferences to enhance the true spirit of giving during the holiday season and beyond.

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