When you find that perfect gift for someone, it can be extremely rewarding. They break down into tears of joy, hug you tight, and can’t stop thanking you for their present. The not so perfect gift can be awkward, upsetting, and even push people apart. That is because givers and receivers value gifts differently.
According to a new research article in the journal of the Association for Psychological Science, givers of gifts focus primarily on the moment of the exchange when shopping for a present. It also found that the recipients of gifts are focused on a gift’s long-term usefulness.
Givers and receivers have different views on what makes a gift valuable. The authors of the article explain, “Givers interpret that to mean that the gift will make the recipient feel delighted, impressed, surprised, and/or touched when he or she receives and opens it, whereas recipients find value in factors that allow them to better utilize and enjoy a gift during their subsequent ownership of it.”
A giver might think that a highly desirable gift will “wow”, but the recipient will probably care more about a useful gift instead. For example, giving an iPhone to your grandfather who has never used a cell phone before.
There is also a discrepancy in the tangibility of a gift. Givers tend to think of immediate satisfaction as opposed to the recipient’s preference for more experiential gifts, such as tickets to a play or a sporting event that can be used later on.
Furthermore, the researchers explored why gifts can go so wrong. When you buy a gift for someone, you are expressing your knowledge about them. However, the recipient is more aware of their own unique traits and if a gift is mismatched to their own perceptions, it may be more of an insult than a compliment to your relationship.
The researchers recommended that givers should think about gifts that will be appreciated and how useful they will be. Gifts should be about long-term joy rather than instantaneous joy.
If you’re still unsure of what to buy, remember to keep those gift receipts just in case.
Watch the video to see whether gift cards are a good idea this holiday season.