veritas exquirere

Talon

veritas exquirere

Talon

veritas exquirere

Talon

The psychological benefits of gift-giving

Improve your gifting this season
Art+by+Anika+Ravilla
Art by Anika Ravilla

It’s that time of year again. The malls are packed, stores begin running out of stock and people wait until the very last minute to get a particular gift for that special person. Contrary to what many believe, the stress and struggles associated with choosing the perfect gift for your loved one have great rewards.  

Many studies have shown that gift-giving has a positive physiological impact on the person giving the gift. 

But part of the uniqueness of the reward activation around gift-giving compared to something like receiving an award or winning money is that because it is social, it also activates pathways in the brain that release oxytocin, which is a neuropeptide that signals trust, safety, and connection. It’s often called the ‘cuddle hormone,’” a science research director at the University of California, Berkeley Emiliana Simon-Thomas said.

The hormones released in the brain when giving a gift and acting for someone else’s benefit are far more long-lasting than other “happiness” hormones like dopamine. 

In a study from Science.org, people were given specific amounts of money and told to spend it on themselves or someone else. Then, their happiness levels were measured.

The results showed that people who were told to spend on others were significantly happier than those who spent the money on themselves, regardless of the dollar amount,” Sarah Jacoby wrote on Today.

Though there are proven psychological benefits of gift-giving, the psychological benefits of receiving are lower than you might think. 

During the gift-giving season, many people need help getting a gift for someone they want, but often, they purchase something they would enjoy that is different from what the receiver would like. As a result, the gift receiver may feel differently than the gifter does in this exchange: the receiver has an impersonal gift they may not want, and the gifter is left satisfied with their so-called thoughtful gift.

“People often give gifts that reflect their own desires and motivations rather than considering the preferences of the recipient,” Kate Murphy of The New York Times wrote.

Psychologist Marisa G. Franco adds her perspective and offers a solution. 

“We think that people would prefer something we’ve chosen for them rather than what they’ve explicitly asked for,” she said.

Considering this concept, a gift with more meaning and ‘thought’ involved is one that the receiver has asked for, not one that satisfies the gifter. According to Allyson Chiu of The Washington Post, gifts of events and experiences show a connection to recipients and are perceived as being more thoughtful. Additionally, recipients tend to enjoy handmade gifts,  indicating that the gifter took time to create something they would enjoy. 

Recipients of gifts may know if something was bought or if not much thought was put into a gift. This holiday season, become a gifting expert by taking the time to carefully plan out a meaningful gift based on what the recipient would enjoy, not what you would like to give them.

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Sydney Herstein
Sydney Herstein, Features Editor
Brooke Herstein
Brooke Herstein, News Editor
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