With Christmas around the corner, we are yet again faced with the same question as every year: how do I choose the perfect gifts for my loves ones? Research might finally have an answer to that question. In an article that appeared in the Journal of Consumer Psychology in 2015, consumer researchers Gabriele Paolacci, Laura Straeter and Ilona de Hooge show that a gift recipients appreciate their gifts much more when these gifts match the giver’s characteristics.
Why? Because gifts that match the giver’s characteristics are more congruent with the giver’s identity, i.e., the giver’s self. To test this, the researchers ran a series of experiments. In one experiment, they randomly assigned participants to one of two conditions. In both conditions, they told them to imagine that their friend Robin had given them a mug with a famous Louvre paining printed on it as a graduation gift. The critical difference between the two conditions was the description of Robin. In the match condition, Robin was described as someone who is passionate about rock music and France, in particular Paris. In the no match condition, Robin was described as someone who is passionate about rock music and England, in particular London. As expected, participants appreciated the gift more when the gift matched Robin’s characteristic – when Robin was desribed as someone who loves Paris, France. In this case, they perceived the gift as more congruent with Robin’s identity.
In subsequent experiments, the researchers further discover that the effect is independent from the actual relationship between the giver and the recipient as well as inferences a recipient might make about a giver’s motivation. They do find, however, that it is important that the gift matches a giver’s core rather than some peripheral characteristic. In other words, the identity link between the gift and the giver needs to be strong.
You can read the full article [HERE].
If you are too busy right now to read the full paper (maybe because you are still looking for the perfect Christmas gift), just remember one thing: giving a tiny bit of your SELF might pay this year!