By: Marc Ransford—
Muncie, Indiana—As the holidays are fast approaching, millions of Americans are hunting for the perfect present. There are two strategies, says Andy Luttrell, a psychological science professor at Ball State University: recipient-focused and giver-focused.
“By being recipient-focused, you are looking for a present that that signifies the likes and dislikes of the person who will receive it,” he says. “For example, you buy a person a book by his or her favorite author.”
With the second strategy, you seek a present that reminds the person of you and your qualities or personality.
“I might buy someone my favorite book because I like it or I found it useful,” Luttrell says. “This says I want to share something about me.”
Luttrell points out that recent research found that even though most people believe they like recipient-focused gifts, it is giver-focused presents that bring us together. He also believe that givers and recipients think about gifts differently.
“As gift-givers, we get caught up in the moment of giving a gift,” he said, “and we over-prioritize wanting to make a splash with our gifts. As gift recipients, though, we’d really appreciate getting something that’s useful, even if it’s less flashy. So when giving gifts, we can take a note from the research and pause to first think what it is we would actually appreciate receiving, and let that guide our decision.”
For “5 Gift-Giving Dilemmas Answered with Science,” go to Luttrel’s blog post: