7 Science-Backed Ways to Give Less-Bad Gifts

December 23, 2014 1:10 PM

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To you, gift-giving is a mildly stressful holiday chore. To researchers who study consumer psychology, it's a fascinating way to learn more about human nature. What are we trying to say with the presents we give? And what message do we interpret from the ones we receive? Unfortunately, much of the research shows that all the best gift-giving intentions in the world do not necessarily lead to good gifts. Here's a brief look at some recently published studies that give us some hints on how to give less-terrible presents this holiday season, or any other time of the year, really.

Just give them what they asked for. Having someone hand you a list of the stuff they want does not seem like the most thoughtful approach to gift-giving. But these gifts will probably be appreciated, according to a 2011 study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

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