Giving gifts that promote feelings of closeness

“A surprising new study suggests that that [matching the recipient’s tastes] may be the wrong way to pick a gift — and that giving a gift that reflects the your own interests may make the recipient feel emotionally closer to you….

People seem to underestimate the benefits of giving a gift that reflects their own likes and interests… Giving a gift that reflects your own interests may promote closeness because it may serve as an act of self-disclosure, an instance of sharing oneself with another person. This type of act can be very beneficial for relationships, making you feel closer to that person and making that person feel closer to you.”

Source: Huffingtonpost “Can’t Find That Perfect Gift? Here’s What Scientists Advise”

Giving gifts that promote feelings of closeness
A research of six studies found that:

  • People prefer giving gifts that reflect a receiver’s interests and passions (giver-centric gifts) .
  • People prefer receiving gifts that reflect their own interests and passions (recipient-centric gifts).
  • Gifts that reflect the giver promote greater feelings of “closeness” to their gift partner for both givers and receivers.
  • Giving gifts that reflect the giver may be an underutilized way to boost “closeness”.

Gift giving is a way to increase “closeness” between the you (the giver) and the recipient, and this research suggests that if building social connection is your intention, you should get a gift that reflect you, rather than the recipient.

Does that mean you should buy a Man U jersey (if you are a Manchester United fan) for your Chelsea-supporting friend? Or should you buy your kids “proper clothes” to replace their preferred style, even though you see them put away these gifts every year?

Perhaps a more accurate way to say is – it depends. The art of giving gifts is a contextualised balance between giver- and recipient-centricity. That’s probably why we recommend personalized gifts, which can “give a piece of you” and also acknowledge how much importance you place on the gift recipient.