The Psychology of Giving Great Gifts, According to Research

What should you look for when buying a gift? This article tries to answer that question. A new paper, based on a survey of existing research, suggests that some gifts are great to give but not to receive. Scroll down and learn more from the infographic.

The authors suggest that when we buy a gift for another person, we are likely to focus on the moment of exchange, e.g. the joy it gives, whereas the recipient is more likely to focus on how valuable and useful the gift will be once owned.

The authors have created an infographic which illustrates the typical errors we make when we buy our gifts. Some of the errors might surprise you, just as they surprised me. Click to enlarge the image.

One of the authors sum up the findings by saying that:

“By considering how valuable gifts might be over the course of the recipient’s ownership of them, rather than how much of a smile it might put on recipients’ faces when they are opened, we can meet these goals and provide useful, well-received gifts.” (Galak, 2016).

I will try to keep this information in mind when buying my next gift. If I follow this logic, I may not get a “wow” at first, but if the gift is going to be appreciated more in the long term, I think it’s worth it.

The paper was published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science (Galak, J., Givi, J., & Williams E. F., 2016).

Image: Sheeren M