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Description: Ok so, no pressure, but as we struggle into winter with coronavirus spikes and flares popping up and the prospect of more restrictions, closures, and lockdowns looming, we are also approaching the holiday, gifting season. Yes, I know, we do NOT need any more stress, do we? But, think of it this way, we will be able to shop from the comfort of the desk chairs we bought for our home offices (if we are lucky enough to have a work from home option and space to dedicate to it etc.). Well, some psychologists have actually conducted research on gift-giving and while they find that it can either improve or damage a relationship (yah, no stress there!) they also have a few findings that might help you make better, more thoughtful, gift choices. And no, it does not boil down to the amount of money spent. So, before you read the linked article think about what psychological research suggest is important to consider when planning your gift buying. Once you have your thoughts in order have a read through the article to see what research has to say.

Source: How to choose the right Christmas gift: Tips from psychological research, Adrian R. Camilleri, The Conversation.

Date: November 17, 2020

Photo Credit: Image by Holger Grybsch from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, yes it can be stressful to have to actually consider how a gift you select could negatively (or positively!) impact your relationship with the recipient but it may help to realize that gift exchanges mainly occur in the context of relationships (not counting true Secret Santa events) and so, of course gifts and relationships are related. So, it is not a gift exchange, so much as a reflection (test?) of the nature and strength and valence (positive/negative) of your relationships. So, no pressure! (And go with “experiential” gifts over material gifts!) Good Luck!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. According to research, how are thoughtfulness and gift desirability related within giving and receiving gifts?
  2. Why is there a relationship between gift selection on subsequent shifts or changes in relationships?
  3. What advice can you now provide to those puzzling over what the gifts to give their friends and relatives this coming holiday season?

References (Read Further):

Wooten, D. B. (2000). Qualitative steps toward an expanded model of anxiety in gift-giving. Journal of Consumer Research, 27(1), 84-95. Link

Dunn, E. W., Huntsinger, J., Lun, J., & Sinclair, S. (2008). The gift of similarity: How good and bad gifts influence relationships. Social Cognition, 26(4), 469-481. Link

Sherry Jr, J. F. (1983). Gift giving in anthropological perspective. Journal of consumer research, 10(2), 157-168. Link

Liu, P. J., Dallas, S. K., & Fitzsimons, G. J. (2019). A framework for understanding consumer choices for others. Journal of Consumer Research, 46(3), 407-434. Link

Ruth, J. A., Otnes, C. C., & Brunel, F. F. (1999). Gift receipt and the reformulation of interpersonal relationships. Journal of consumer research, 25(4), 385-402. Link

Dunn, E. W., Huntsinger, J., Lun, J., & Sinclair, S. (2008). The gift of similarity: How good and bad gifts influence relationships. Social Cognition, 26(4), 469-481. Link

Gino, F., & Flynn, F. J. (2011). Give them what they want: The benefits of explicitness in gift exchange. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(5), 915-922. Link

Rim, S., Min, K. E., Liu, P. J., Chartrand, T. L., & Trope, Y. (2019). The gift of psychological closeness: How feasible versus desirable gifts reduce psychological distance to the giver. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 45(3), 360-371. Link

Chan, C., & Mogilner, C. (2017). Experiential gifts foster stronger social relationships than material gifts. Journal of Consumer research, 43(6), 913-931. Link