Researchers have discovered the components of a perfect gift and they are all to do with actions rather than physical goods!
Gifts that involve the recipient in an action or event are talked about more than when a gift is just a possession; being able to talk about the gift helps give the recipient an extra bonus to the present which in turn makes it more memorable and pleasurable.
Cornell University’s Amit Kumar chaired a symposium titled ‘ON DOING AND HAVING’ and updated, by way of empirical data, the work Professor Thomas Gilovich’s previous research that showed that buying experiences brings people more happiness than material purchases.
The research has shown that gifts which involve the recipient in an experience (an Adrenaline challenge or a Romantic Holiday for example) bring more happiness than a purely material purchase (e.g. a commemorative gift or flat-screen television).
One potential explanation of this difference, recent research suggests, is that experiences can prompt storytelling more than mere possessions. The telling of stories has long been seen as a pleasurable experience and facilitate the re-living of the actual event in question; telling stories encourage embellishment, and they foster greater social connection all of which assist to enhance enjoyment of the original gift.
Researcher’s further studies demonstrated that people are more inclined to talk about their experiences than their material purchases and they derive more happiness from doing so. They also confirmed that taking away the ability to talk about experiences (but not the material goods) could diminish the enjoyment they bring.
In one test participants were told they may keep one gift, either the most significant purchase but without being able to talk about it or the second most important purchase and were allowed to talk about it. Those taking part that recalled experiences were more likely to choose a less significant purchase they could still talk about compared to those who just recalled buying physical gifts.
So what does all this mean? well one point that sprung to mind was that you can be more frugal with a gift that involves an experience as the enjoyment and happiness derived gives you more bang for your buck!
I must admit sitting thinking about gifts I have been given I can easy recount those that involved an experience and although can remember great physical gifts I received I struggle more to recall them. What do you think are gifts you participate in better, let us know?