Friday, December 16, 2011

Avoiding Xmas Deadweight Loss, Part IV

In parts one, two, and three of this series I've discussed how to prevent the efficiency loss of Christmas. I've suggested giving guilty pleasures, giving in your expertise, exchanging names and buying less gifts, and using Amazon's patented auto-return policy. But perhaps the easiest (and most efficient) way is to just get exactly what they asked for:
Five studies show that gift recipients are more appreciative of gifts they explicitly request than those they do not. In contrast, gift givers assume that both solicited and unsolicited gifts will be equally appreciated. At the root of this dilemma is a difference of opinion about what purchasing an unsolicited gift signals: gift givers expect unsolicited gifts will be considered more thoughtful and considerate by their intended recipients than is actually the case (Studies 1–3).
And here's how you ensure this:
In our final two studies, we highlight two boundary conditions for this effect: identifying a specific gift and using money as a gift. When gift recipients request one specific gift, rather than providing a list of possible gifts, givers become more willing to purchase the requested gift (Study 4). 
And then there's always cash:
Further, although givers believe that recipients do not appreciate receiving money as much as receiving a solicited gift, recipients feel the opposite about these two gift options (Study 5).
This is why this year I'll be exchanging names with my siblings and I asked for 1) Greenville event/activity tickets (expertise), 2) Apple gift card (guilty pleasure=cash), and 3) a thin mouthed gray Nalgene bottle (very specific). Though the more I consider the idea that giving is better than receiving, I wonder if doing neither is best.

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