The New York Times:
Social scientists bear glad tidings for the holiday season. After extensively observing how people respond to gifts, they have advice for shoppers: You don’t have to try so hard.
You’re not obliged to spend hours finding just the right gift for each person on your list. Most would be just as happy with something quick and easy. This may sound too good to be true, but rest assured this is not a ploy by some lazy Scrooges in academia.
As long as the gift was satisfying, they usually didn’t consider how much thought had gone into it, especially if it came from someone they didn’t know well.
There was just one situation in which the thought counted: when someone received a bad gift from a friend or relative. The researchers, Yan Zhang and Nicholas Epley, approximated this scenario by raising the recipient’s expectations.
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