The myth of the perfect gift

Upset man because of unhappy boring present
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Are you looking for the perfect gift this holiday season? Look no further. It doesn’t exist. As we reported the other day, Americans spend between 3-4% of their annual income on Christmas season gifts. The objective of this considerable allocation of funds, we might assume, is to give things to the people we love and like that will enrich their lives–things they will appreciate, use and enjoy.

The reality is something quite different. A Psychology Today article reports sobering information about the psychology of gift giving and receiving. Authors Ben C Fletcher and D Phil Oxon cite Professor Karen Pine’s research about festive gifts, which found that:

  • 89% of women and 79% of men pretended to like a gift they hated.
  • Half of all people had received at least one gift they hated the previous Christmas.
  • Half of all people have lied to a loved one about a gift, pretending to like it.
  • Gift receivers reported avoiding eye contact with the giver for fear of revealing how they really felt.
  • Gift receivers reported producing fake smiles using only the mouth (not the eye) muscles when pretending to like a gift.
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The myth of the perfect gift
Looking for that perfect gift this holiday season? We might have some bad news.

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