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Description: What makes for a perfect present? Cost? Uniqueness? Thoughtfulness? Surprise value? Wouldn’t it be helpful if there was some psychosocial research done on this seasonally vital question? Wait no longer! Before reading the article linked below think a bit about what made some of the best presents you have given or received so great. Are there any commonalities or did it all seem like luck?

Source: Psychology researchers discover the secret to giving the perfect Christmas gift. Doug Bolton, The Independent, News, Science..

Date: December 14, 2016

Photo Credit:  ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images

Links:  Article Link — http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/best-christmas-presents-psychology-secret-a6773086.html

So what do you think? The study noted in the linked article suggested that people liked gifted songs better if they were told the song their friend chose for them reflected their friend’s personal tastes in music. Before deciding to do all your holiday shopping on ITunes however, think a bit about the methodology of the study and see if you believe it produced valid (useful) results. First, the gifts in question were songs. Do you think finding related to one type of gift can be generalized to other types of gifts? Second, cost was controlled by using songs that all cost the same (and very little). Does controlling for cost lead to useful results? Third the recipients of the song gifts were simply told that the song reflected their friend’s musical tastes. IS being told such information different than knowing it or figuring it out? For example, if the song was picked at random and the recipient was told it reflected their giver-friends tastes would the effect be the same? The article goes on to caution about the effects of giving a low and high cost gifts together and about giving extravagant and expensive gifts early in a relationship. The study authors concluded that having a gift reflect how well you have gotten to know the recipient is a positive option that must, however, be done “carefully and thoughtfully”.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What factors contribute psychologically to the likability of gifts?
  2. What did you conclude about the design of the study discussed in the linked article?
  3. How would you design a study looking at gift giving and likability of received gifts that would not be affected by some of the concerns you or I raised about the research article discussed?

References (Read Further):

Mayet, C., & Pine, K. J. (2010). The psychology of gift exchange. University of Hertfordshire. http://karenpine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/The-Psychology-of-Gift-Exchange.pdf

Birg, L., & Goeddeke, A. (2016). CHRISTMAS ECONOMICS—A SLEIGH RIDE. Economic Inquiry. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Anna_Goeddeke2/publication/268624363_Christmas_Economics_A_Sleigh_Ride/links/5471be260cf2d67fc034538a.pdf

Guido, G., Pino, G., & Peluso, A. M. (2016). Assessing individuals’ re-gifting motivations. Journal of Business Research.

Bradler, C., & Neckermann, S. (2016). The Magic of the Personal Touch: Field Experimental Evidence on Money and Appreciation as Gifts.

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