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Entries in gifts (17)

Friday
Dec192014

This Holiday Season, Get Your Romantic Partner Exactly What He or She Wants

As the gift giving swings into full gear, the pressure is on to find that perfect gift for your significant other. But what sort of present will best communicate your affections? Should you scour the mall (or internet) in search of new gift-giving inspiration? Or should you “stick to the list”, and just give your partner what he or she wished for?

In a study on gift-giving, participants imagined1 either that they were trying to find a present for their romantic partners or that their partners were trying to find a present for them. When participants took the role of the “gift giver”, many believed that they should try to find a gift that was not on their partner’s wish list.  By ignoring the list and finding an alternate present, participants seemed to believe the rogue gift would communicate thoughtfulness and effort. But when participants took the role of the “gift receiver” they were actually more appreciative, and saw their partners as being more thoughtful, when their partners gave them a gift from their wish list rather than an alternative present.  The researchers also found similar effects for non-romantic relationships (e.g., friendships, parents): regardless of how close the gift recipient felt to the gift giver, wished-for gifts were always preferred. This effect held even when there was only one item on the wish list. So it would seem that surprises are over-rated!

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Wednesday
Dec172014

All I Want for Christmas is You: The Science of Gift Giving

Each year around mid-November, business owners begin to lick their chops: the next month will arguably be their busiest and most profitable. Last year, for example, Americans spent over $52 billion during the Thanksgiving weekend alone.1 Although large portions of these purchases are surely self-indulging, people also make a lot of purchases to take care of gift shopping for the upcoming holiday season.

Gift giving seems to be a biologically natural phenomenon across a range of species and targets – even organisms as simple as insects feel the need to get in on the giving. Male crickets, for example, gift their sexual partners with a nutritious treat to prevent them from prematurely consuming their sperm ampulla—essentially a big bag of sperm—after mating.2 Insect gift giving extends beyond sexual partners as well: burying beetles provide their young larvae with a tasty carcass to feed on and live in.3

Similarly, humans often provide their loved ones—children, mates, or otherwise—with an assortment of presents. Thankfully, these gifts tend to be less disgusting than those given by our insect counterparts. Although you may look forward to exchanging gifts with your loved ones this time of year, it’s worth asking: is gift giving good for relationships, or is it possible for gift giving to somehow harm close relationships?

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Wednesday
Dec172014

‘Tis the Season: 5 Principles For Spending Your Money Wisely During Holiday Gift Shopping

The holiday season is full of things that will test your relationship, like navigating office holiday parties, having to be friendly with the in-laws, managing your credit card balance, and dealing with kids’ unreasonable demands. Any of these can put stress on your relationship, but perhaps the biggest relationship challenge is picking the right gift for your partner. As we’ve discussed before, there is a science to gift-giving, but fundamentally, as the giver, you must decide on the best way to spend your money. When your partner unwraps your present (or, for the gift-wrapping challenged like me, simply lifts it out of a bag), how can you assure you’re getting your money’s worth?

Data from a large-scale national survey shows that we generally overestimate money’s effect on most people’s life satisfaction and happiness.1 Given that money doesn't buy happiness to the extent that most people believe, what should you spend your hard-earned-cash on this holiday season when buying a gift for your partner? A team of researchers reviewed previous studies on this topic to determine how to spend money to maximize happiness.2 Several of their principles provide insight into the best gifts to buy this holiday season.

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Thursday
Feb132014

I’ll Prove My Love to You: Valentine’s Day in Tanzania

Michelle Kaufman is a researcher that focuses on sexual behavior in the developing world. She globetrots regularly, engaging in ethnographic work along the way in order to inform the quantitative and qualitative research she conducts. Recently, Michelle visited Tanzania and investigated how people celebrate Valentine’s Day.

While in Tanzania last month, I asked everyone I met about Valentine’s Day. Do Tanzanians celebrate it, and how?

Who celebrates Valentine’s Day in Tanzania? First, Valentine’s Day is not commonly celebrated in Tanzania. Not surprisingly, it is viewed as a holiday for urban, wealthier people, and mostly for the youth. Those living in rural areas or those who are living day-to-day just trying to survive don’t give Valentine’s Day much thought (they are more focused on things like food, shelter, etc.). All my informants made it clear right away that this is a holiday for the well off with expendable income.

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Tuesday
Feb112014

Valentine's Day Gift Buying Guide for Her and Him

One of the reasons people indicate that they ‘hate’ Valentine’s Day is because it’s too commercial. Indeed, the vast majority of our survey respondents indicated that some form of gift is expected (88%). So we wanted to know (a) how people prefer to receive their gifts and (b) what types of gifts they prefer.

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Saturday
Feb082014

Valentines Approaching Middle Age*

*Wikipedia defines “middle age” as 41 – 60, so it must be true. 

Everyone in a long-term romantic relationship has a story. Each of our stories is unique. Our story begins when we were 21 (Charlotte) and 25 (Patrick). We were both coming off other long-term, serious (or so we thought) relationships, and we really didn’t know what we wanted out of a relationship or what we could offer a partner. Now, 17 years and 2 kids later, we both feel pretty lucky that things have worked out as well as they have. Back then, we had no idea what challenges we would face or how we would help each other maneuver through them. We were young and optimistic, but there was so much we didn’t know.

Due to practice and a bit of research (it doesn’t hurt that we are both researchers who study romantic relationships!), we know a little more about relationships now. However, we are still never sure what to do each Valentine’s Day (see past reflections on this matter here and here). It seems like a holiday for “new lovers,” and we’ve known each other too long to feel “new” to each other. What are those of us approaching middle age and in long-term relationships supposed to do on this holiday?

Being the nerds that we are, we decided to review some relevant research to help answer this question, and we offer a few tips in case you find yourself in a similar predicament.

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Tuesday
Dec172013

‘Tis the Season: 5 Principles For Spending Your Money Wisely During Holiday Gift Shopping

The holiday season is full of things that will test your relationship, like navigating office holiday parties, having to be friendly with the in-laws, managing your credit card balance, and dealing with kids’ unreasonable demands. Any of these can put stress on your relationship, but perhaps the biggest relationship challenge is picking the right gift for your partner. As we’ve discussed before, there is a science to gift-giving, but fundamentally, as the giver, you must decide on the best way to spend your money. When your partner unwraps your present (or, for the gift-wrapping challenged like me, simply lifts it out of a bag), how can you assure you’re getting your money’s worth?

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Tuesday
Feb122013

Bad Valentine’s Day Gifts: Do They Hurt Your Relationship?

Now that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, you may be worried about picking out the perfect gift for your partner. Is it something he will like? Will she be disappointed by your efforts? And how is a partner’s response to your Valentine's Day gift related to thoughts about the future of your relationship?

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Friday
Feb082013

To the Love of My Life: Motivations for Gift-Giving on Valentine’s Day

I’ve received a gift on Valentine’s Day once in the past ten years. I wouldn’t consider my lackluster gift count so remarkable if I were perpetually single, but I have been romantically involved with someone on every single Valentine’s Day in the last decade! In contrast to my former partners, I derive a ridiculous amount of pleasure from giving people presents. Although I hardly need a reason to buy someone a gift (“It’s Tuesday? Cool; here’s the box set of Top Gear you said you wanted”), Valentine’s Day offers the perfect excuse for me to indulge my gift-giving fancy.

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Monday
Feb042013

Sweets for My Sweet?

It’s that time of year again. I’ve barely recovered from Christmas, and yet the stores have pulled out all the Valentine’s Day decorations and cards. When I spot the shades of red and pink at my local Target, I find myself silently groaning. Another gift to buy. Already. Again. Really?

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Friday
Dec142012

All I Want for Christmas is You: The Science of Gift Giving

Each year around mid-November, business owners begin to lick their chops: the next month will arguably be their busiest and most profitable. Last year, for example, Americans spent over $52 billion during the Thanksgiving weekend alone.1 Although large portions of these purchases are surely self-indulging, people also make a lot of purchases to take care of gift shopping for the upcoming holiday season.

Gift giving seems to be a biologically natural phenomenon across a range of species and targets – even organisms as simple as insects feel the need to get in on the giving.

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Friday
Dec142012

The Lover’s Guide to Surviving Holiday Gift-Giving

It’s that time of the year again - streets coloured with festive decorations, malls ringing with well-known holiday music, and shops filled with people wandering aimlessly in search of the perfect gifts for their loved ones. I, for one, struggle every year to find that special present that will give my boyfriend a big smile under the holiday lights. I’m sure I’m not the only one who suffers from this pre-holiday shopping stress. To add to my stress, research confirms what we probably all know already: gift-giving has a significant impact on romantic relationships.

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Thursday
Dec132012

Regifting: A Gift-Giver’s Hidden Shame

Ever get a gift that was so perfect for you that you actually already had the gifted item? Or maybe you received a gift that was so awful that you wondered if the giver knew you at all. (Sure, it’s the thought that counts, but what were they thinking?!) These are the times when gift receipts and generous store return policies come in handy. But if exchanges aren’t allowed, we may find ourselves contemplating “regifting” (i.e., giving the unwanted gift to someone else), especially with National Regifting Day approaching on the Thursday before Christmas. We may feel ashamed or opportunistic, however, about presenting someone with a gift we didn’t want ourselves in light of the distinct social taboo against the practice of regifting. (Remember Elaine’s indignant “He recycled this gift! He’s a regifter!” on Seinfeld?). Is this worry justified?

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Wednesday
Feb082012

She Said/He Said: What to Get Your Partner for Valentine’s Day

Editor's note: Relationship researchers and married couple Drs. Charlotte and Patrick Markey give us "his and her" takes on how to approach Valentine's Day gift giving.

She said...

I went to the mailbox this morning and found a turquoise blue catalogue amongst the undesirable bills and solicitations. On the cover, heart-shaped jewelry reminded me that Valentine’s Day was quickly approaching. I was tempted to strategically place this little blue reminder from Tiffany’s in my husband’s view -- on his dresser, in his briefcase, or perhaps on the kitchen island. But then, I found myself realizing I did not actually desire expensive jewelry for Valentine’s Day. Perhaps I was ill? Wasn’t I supposed to want something fancy?

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Tuesday
Feb072012

Valentine’s Day Gifts: Pleasure or Obligation?

image source: askmen.comDo you enjoy giving Valentine’s Day gifts? Or is it an unpleasant obligation? Your feelings about giving presents depends on your attachment style. Across two studies, secure people reported that giving gifts to partners was more pleasurable and not done out of obligation. Conversely, people high in avoidance experienced less pleasure, whereas those high in anxiety felt more obligated to give gifts, possibly because they feared losing their partners when their relationships weren’t going well.

Nguyen, H. P., & Munch, J. M. (2011). Romantic gift giving as a chore or pleasure: The effects of attachment orientations on gift giving perceptions. Journal of Business Research, 64, 113-118.

Wednesday
Dec212011

This Holiday Season, Get Your Romantic Partner Exactly What He or She Wants

As the gift giving swings into full gear, the pressure is on to find that perfect gift for your significant other. But what sort of present will best communicate your affections? Should you scour the mall (or internet) in search of new gift-giving inspiration? Or should you “stick to the list”, and just give your partner what he or she wished for?

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Monday
Dec192011

Erotic Photos: A Holiday Gift Both You and Your Partner will Appreciate?

Looking for the perfect Holiday gift for a romantic partner or lover? Our research suggests that having an erotic photo taken could turn out to be a great gift for both you and your partner!

In recent years, a growing number of women (and some men and couples too!) have been visiting professional photographers to have sexy photos taken. Recently, myself and my colleagues conducted two studies about erotic photography and learned that there is more to this experience than meets the eye.

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