Christmas shopping made easy

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The experiments, detailed in the Journal of Consumer Research, showed that the more thoughtful the shoppers tried to be, the more they choose less-liked gifts.

London - Christmas shopping is about to get a whole lot easier.

Research suggests we are wasting our time by spending hours choosing different gifts for our friends.

Instead, they’d be happier to all be given the same thing.

Scientists say when we choose presents for lots of people we tend to focus too much on trying to get everyone a different thing.

As a result, we don’t buy them the things they’d really like.

In other words, by trying to be thoughtful, we choose the wrong present.

The US researchers did six experiments in which shoppers were asked to choose a gift or card for one person or for presents for two people with similar interests.

When shopping for one, the volunteers tended to choose the most appealing gift.

For instance, they would pick an Amazon gift voucher rather than one for the university bookshop.

But when shopping for two, they tended to pass up the more appealing gift in favour of getting different presents for each person.

A spokesman for the researchers said: “Consider someone giving a magazine subscription to two friends, both of whom are avid sports fans.

“Instead of getting both friends a sports magazine, the giver might select a technology magazine for the first friend and a travel magazine for the second, even though both friends might have preferred a sports magazine and even though the giver might have given a sports magazine to either friend if he or she were the only recipient.”

The experiments, detailed in the Journal of Consumer Research, showed that the more thoughtful the shoppers tried to be, the more they choose less-liked gifts.

What is more, the shoppers persisted in buying different presents for people with the same interests, even when they were told they did not know each other and didn’t have any friends in common.

The University of Cincinnati researchers said: ‘It may seem more thoughtful to give individual gifts that convey an understanding of each recipient’s unique identity than to give less personalised gifts, even if those less personalised gifts may be liked better overall.

“Givers may feel that getting the same gift for multiple recipients is taking the easy way out.

“Givers may lose sight of the fact that recipients would rather receive the item that they like best over an item that individuates them from another recipient who happens to simultaneously be on the giver’s mind.”

If that wasn’t enough to persuade you to not waste too much time on your Christmas shopping, previous research has shown that recipients tend to underestimate the price of gifts. They also fail to fully appreciate the amount of thought put in. - Daily Mail

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