Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The benefits of low-effort, low-cost gift giving

Many people shy away from regifting, or hide the fact they are doing it, out of fear the original giver of the item could be offended. Don't worry, says a recent study published in the journal Psychological Science. The person who first gave the item is less likely to be offended than the regifter expects.

Some gift givers spend time and energy trying to find just the right gift. But thoughtful gifts don't necessarily lead to greater appreciation, according to a study published in November in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. The benefit of a thoughtful gift actually accrues mainly to the giver, who derives a feeling of closeness to the other person, the study found.

People are more appreciative when they receive a gift they have explicitly requested, according to a similar study published last year in a separate publication called the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. ...

Another study found spending more money on a gift doesn't necessarily translate into greater appreciation. That might come as a surprise to many gift givers, who often assume that a more expensive gift conveys a higher level of thoughtfulness, according to the research, published in 2009 in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. ...

According to a nationwide consumer-spending survey by American Express, 58% of people believe it is OK sometimes to regift an item. That figure rises for the holiday season, when 79% of respondents said they believe regifting is socially acceptable. ...

In the study of regifting, researchers conducted five separate experiments involving nearly 500 people in both real and imagined scenarios. The reason people weren't overly bothered when their gifts were later regifted was because they generally believed the recipient was free to decide what to do with an item. ...

The adage "It's the thought that counts" was largely debunked by the recent study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, which concluded that gift givers are better off choosing gifts that receivers actually desire rather than spending a lot of time and energy shopping for what they perceive to be a thoughtful gift. The study found thoughtfulness doesn't increase a recipient's appreciation if the gift is a desirable one. In fact, thoughtfulness only seemed to count when a friend gives a gift that is disliked.