A study published this year in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that while gift recipients are happier with gifts they’ve explicitly asked for, givers think that gifts they’ve picked out on their own are seen as more considerate and better appreciated.
What’s more, research led by Mary Steffel, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Florida-Gainesville, suggests that shoppers who are selecting gifts for more than one close friend at a time tend to focus on how the recipients are different, rather than on what they’d like best.
“Ironically, this means the harder shoppers try to be thoughtful, the more likely they are to pass up gifts that would be better liked in favor of unique gifts,” Steffel says.
“Giving is almost more about the giver” than it is about the recipient, says Tina Lowrey, a professor of marketing at the University of Texas-San Antonio who has studied gift-giving behavior.
One way to select better presents is to be aware of what kind of giver you are, she says.
Here are some Giver Types:
The Procrastinator: Slacker? No, worried about making a mistake
The Planner: If you shop all year, make a list and check it twice
The Practical Giver: Practicality is a plus, but it may lack imagination
The Do-Gooder: Don’t forget to keep the recipient in mind
The Perfect Gift-Giver: Pleasers personify the joy of giving