Psychology of gift giving revealed – including ‘presents of love’ and gifting mistake ‘putting relationships at risk’

CHRISTMAS is a time for gift giving but not everyone puts as much effort into the art of a good present.

Numerous psychologists have investigated the act of gift giving and tried to understand why we do it and what different types of presents subliminally mean.

Gift-giving is said to boost good chemicals in our brains and strengthen connections


Some experts believe humans give gifts to enhance connections as well as to feel the positive benefits of a good deed.

Psychology Professor Elizabeth Dunn previously told The Harvard Business Review that meaning is found in who you’re giving the gift to and how you go about it.

She also explained that gifts are worth giving when they can help us build strong connections.

The expert is quoted as saying: “That’s when people feel happier.

“When they’re making a real connection and seeing the impact their gift has on someone else.”

In the same article expert Chris Courtney highlighted the importance of knowing someone’s love language.

Gifts can be seen as an expression of love as well as a way to celebrate an occasion like Christmas or a birthday.

The Cleveland Clinic also highlights the benefits of gift-giving on its website.

It explains: “A smile isn’t the only reaction that comes from gift-giving.

“There’s also a chemical response that takes place in your body in response to … well, just doing something nice.”

Chemicals released in your brain when you make someone happy include Serotonin, Dopamine, and Oxytocin.


A gift doesn’t have to cost a lot a mean a lot, just as an expensive present might not indicate how someone really feels about you.

The gift of being with your loved ones can be considered just as meaningful as a diamond ring.

However, some types of presents are riskier than others.

Being someone who receives a gift and then re-gifts it can be a bad sign for relationships if the recipient finds out.

That’s according to a study by Harvard Business School.

The researchers found that participants considered regifting a present as offensive as throwing one away.

They wrote: “Specifically, receivers viewed regifting as similar in offensiveness to throwing gifts away, yet givers clearly preferred the former.

“This asymmetry in emotional reactions to regifting was driven by an asymmetry in beliefs about entitlement.

“Givers believed that the act of gift giving passed title to the gift on to receivers, so that receivers were free to decide what to do with the gift; in contrast, receivers believed that givers retained some say in how their gifts were used.”

On the other hand, the best kind of gift is one that shows a person truly knows you.

This involves thinking about how someone is going to interpret a present and making sure it’s thoughtful.

Love language expert Dr Gary Chapman told The Harvard Business Review: “If you dig into the concept that what makes one person feel loved does not make another person feel loved, you will discover that giving gifts doesn’t sleep as deeply with everyone.

“If you realize six of the 10 people in your circle prefer words of affirmation and would appreciate a thoughtful card over a material item, you won’t feel as much of a need to spend money on a fancy present.”

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