Schreiber Science

Davida Harris

Struggling to find the perfect gift during the holidays? A recent study from Carnegie Mellon University, conducted by Jeff Galak, explores the science of gift-giving and receiving.  Galak and his colleagues came to the conclusion that gift-givers are worried about the moment the recipient receives the gift, whereas the recipients focus more on the long-term effects the gift.  Psychologists found that gifts can often be over-individualized, and that useful or commonplace gifts are more appreciated in the long run.  In most cases, the more general the gift is, the better.

A study at Northeastern University argues that gift cards can be excellent gifts when they are not too specific. Researchers also stress the importance of listening to the recipient’s suggestions when purchasing gifts. People do not always need to be surprised by their gifts. Instead, they prefer to receive something on their list.

In Chicago, researchers performed an experiment to calculate the appreciation of gifts by random participants.  The gifts that the participants felt they could get more use out of were more appreciated. They cared more about useful gifts that piqued their interest than those that were thoughtful.

Contrary to popular belief, studies have shown that there is nothing wrong with re-gifting a present. People tend to appreciate the gift just as much as if you had purchased it for them yourself. This year during the holidays, make sure to give a gift that is meaningful and practical, and do not get too caught up in the individuality and the surprise of it.