Gifts that involve the recipient in an action or event tend to be talked about more than when a gift is just a possession albeit a prized one. Being able to talk about the gift helps give the recipient an extra bonus (often known as Bragging rights) to the gift which in turn makes it more memorable and pleasurable.
The research has shown that gifts which involve the recipient in an experience (an Adrenaline challenge, Romantic Holiday or Day out for example) brings more happiness than a purely material purchase (e.g. a commemorative gift or Flowers).
One potential explanation of this difference, 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 facilitates the re-living of the actual event in question; telling stories encourages embellishment, and foster greater social connection, all of which assist to enhance enjoyment of the original gift.
Researcher’s further studies demonstrate that people are more inclined to talk about their experience than a material purchase 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 significant test the participants were told they may keep one gift, either the best gift 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.
I must admit sitting thinking about gifts I have given and been given I can easy recount those that involved an experience and although can remember great physical gifts I have received I struggle to recall them easily.
What do you think; are gifts you participate in better, let us know?