The Psychology of Gift Giving

First, I want to apologize. Some of you may be wondering what I am apologizing for and the rest are probably expecting me to apologize for any one of a number of things. I’m sorry if my apology does not include any of those other things you think I should be apologizing for. We can deal with that later.

I am apologizing today for my bad gift-giving habits.

While flipping through the latest issue of Psychology Today, I came across an interesting article about giving wedding gifts (Present Tense: Why the sweetest gifts are the most obvious ones). The article said that despite all of those years of thinking I was clever and cute by purchasing a unique gift for a friend’s wedding/birthday/baby shower, I was wrong. According to Harvard researchers, I should have been giving obvious gifts, i.e. presents that people specifically asked for.

I once gave someone chocolates from a French chocolate store in New York when they asked for money. For a friend’s baby shower, I purchased a bear from a bear-building store and dressed it in a Star Wars uniform (never mind that the whole bear-building experience was meant for kids) without even glancing at the easily accessible gift registry. To those of you whom I may have offended by my careless gift choices, I am truly sorry.

From now on, I will go with what is on the gift registry or give cold, hard cash. (Cash trumps all is a sub-heading in the article.)

I just hope everyone heeds this warning when considering to purchase a wedding gift for me. And no hard feelings if you don’t get me anything at all. I’ve attended a number of weddings, dining on fine food and dancing the night away without so much as giving the hosts a card. The article didn’t mention anything good or bad about that, though.

Sound off and tell me about some of the best/worst gifts you have received.

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About JadedBride

Amy Kraft is a print and radio journalist based in New York. Her work has appeared in publications including Scientific American, Discover, Popular Science, The Week, Psychology Today, and Distillations, a podcast out of the Chemical Heritage Foundation. She is currently working on a book of humor essays. View all posts by JadedBride

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