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The art of giving gifts

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Giving the right gift is an art which involves a little bit of science as well, says a new research.

Recipients prefer less personalised cards which allow more versatile usage, a University of Cincinnati study has found.

“Givers often fail to anticipate that the gifts they prefer to give are not necessarily the ones recipients prefer to receive,” explained Mary Steffel from the University of Cincinnati.

Here are some tips from Steffel to make sure your gift is well received.

1. Personalising gifts does not guarantee appreciation, the “perfect” gift card might never get used.

Researchers found the tendency for givers to select overly specific gifts can contribute to gift non-use.

“Recipients take longer to redeem gift cards that are specific to a particular store or product category than gift cards that can be used at more places and for a wider range of products. Givers, however, do not recognise this and overwhelmingly gravitate to more specific gift cards,” said Steffel.

2. To really impress someone, think romantically but shop for versatility.

When it comes to choosing gifts for closer ones, like romantic partners, givers try hard to be thoughtful and demonstrate their knowledge of their partner.

“Ironically, these attempts to be thoughtful can backfire. We find that givers tend to choose more specific, less versatile gift cards when shopping for romantic partners than friends, but that recipients prefer more versatile gift cards regardless of how close they are to the giver,” she explained.

3. Focusing on what recipients would like and considering their current wants and needs rather than their traits is a good move.

Why do givers, who have been gift recipients at some point themselves, fail to realise what recipients actually want?

It is a human tendency to focus on other people’s stable traits and personality when trying to explain their behaviour and preferences but to focus more on situational factors when making sense of one’s own behaviour and preferences.

“We find that encouraging givers to focus from what recipients would like rather than on what they are like makes givers more likely to choose the more versatile gifts than their recipients prefer,” Steffel concluded.