The Science Behind Gifting (and Regifting) - WSJ.com: " . . . Regifting, once a social taboo, is gradually gaining in acceptance. According to a nationwide consumer-spending survey by American Express, 58% of people believe it is OK sometimes to regift an item. That figure rises for the holiday season, when 79% of respondents said they believe regifting is socially acceptable. The survey, which polled about 2,000 people last year, found that nearly one-quarter of consumers said they regifted at least one item the previous holiday season. Regifting can lead to awkward moments. . . . "Regifting isn't a bad thing, it's not quite as offensive as people might think it is," says Gabrielle Adams, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at the London Business School and a co-author of the recent study in Psychological Science. Sharon Love, who heads a retail marketing agency, says she frequently regifts an item if she feels it is appropriate for another person. But she says she tries to be upfront about it. Ms. Love, who lives in New York City, says she once received an entertainment and etiquette book that was clearly regifted: The book contained an inscription made out to the giver. "It did kind of make me mad, so I just kind of regifted it the following year back to him," she says. Ms. Love says she received a thank-you card in return. The adage "It's the thought that counts" was largely debunked by the recent study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, which concluded that gift givers are better off choosing gifts that receivers actually desire rather than spending a lot of time and energy shopping for what they perceive to be a thoughtful gift. The study found thoughtfulness doesn't increase a recipient's appreciation if the gift is a desirable one. In fact, thoughtfulness only seemed to count when a friend gives a gift that is disliked. "The secret to being a good gift giver…is to give them what they want," says Dr. Epley, from the University of Chicago. Dr. Epley says that after his wife gave birth to their second child, he spent a lot of time dreaming up what he thought was the perfect Christmas gift for her: a behind-the-scenes day as a trainer at the Chicago aquarium. "She loves marine animals, I thought this would be the best thing for her," he says. Instead, he says, "She hated the gift. The idea of squeezing into a Neoprene wetsuit a month after giving birth and holding a stinky fish over a penguin or a dolphin was the last thing she wanted to do." She returned the gift. Now, Dr. Epley says he asks his wife to tell him what she wants before the holiday season. She presented him with a list last week."
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