Experiential Gifts Foster Stronger Social Relationships Than Material Gifts

Published on Dec 5, 2016in Journal of Consumer Research
· DOI :10.1093/JCR/UCW067
Cindy Chan4
Estimated H-index: 4
(U of T: University of Toronto),
Cindy Chan1
Estimated H-index: 1
(U of T: University of Toronto),
Cassie Mogilner19
Estimated H-index: 19
(UCLA: University of California, Los Angeles)
Interpersonal relationships are essential to well-being, and gifts are often given to cultivate these relationships. To inform gift givers of what to give and to gain insight into the connecting function of gifts, this research investigates what type of gift is better at strengthening relationships according to gift recipients—material gifts (objects for recipients to keep) or experiential gifts (events for recipients to live through). Experiments examining actual gift exchanges in real-life relationships reveal that experiential gifts produce greater improvements in relationship strength than material gifts, regardless of whether the gift giver and recipient consume the gift together. The relationship improvements that recipients derive from experiential gifts stem from the intensity of emotion that is evoked when they consume the gifts, rather than when the gifts are received. Giving experiential gifts is thus identified as a highly effective form of prosocial spending.
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