• Lauren Crocker

The Psychology of Gifts



It’s that time of the year where you have to purchase a perfect gift for someone you care about. Gift giving is a universal way of showing how much we care and appreciate someone. It is something that we do naturally without implementing deeper meaning. Yet, when we choose a gift, there is a conscious decision of how meaningful a gift should be. Gifts are often used to build or maintain social relationships and express feelings. With the mindset of giving the perfect gift, the most obvious question people ask themselves is, “who is it for, what is it, how do we give it, and the relationship between us”. So with all that in mind, what is the actual psychology behind gifts?


To Build Relationships

The practice of giving a gift is the common practice of affection for centuries. It was used to build a political and social relationship between individuals and the state. In modern times, gifts are exchanged during the holidays or for special occasions to commemorate those who we care about. Gifts are usually used to establish or reinforce relationships and to reflect the special bond between the giver and the receiver. Gifts usually become a sentimental value to the receiver because it helps recognize the special connection with a person. In this sense, gifts are a way to show love and commitment in a way to communicate.


Symbolic Communication

Have you ever opened a gift that made you either happy or disappointed? Well, receiving a present always makes you feel something. It is the meaning behind the gift that should count. We attach symbolic meaning behind gifts and like to think someone has put their thoughts into the present. A good gift can make you feel appreciative, while a bad one can leave an unthoughtful feeling despite an altruistic motive from the giver.


To Get Something in Return

Since gifts represent our thoughts and feelings towards someone we want to build a relationship with, there is an expectation of repayment that offers equal value. It can affect the relationship with someone if the value of the gift is too much or too little. It creates a circle of repayment where a small gift signifies how little you care about someone and too much can be embarrassing since it indicates you overvalue.


We love giving gifts to our loved ones because it implies how much we value someone. It strengthens our bonds and reassures how we are valued. People have an urgency to be valued and what is the best way other than showing appreciation through something meaningful. You can help make someone’s day today by sending them a gift at yourgesture.com!


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