Don’t worry about how much you spend (as in, don’t feel like you need to spend a ton of money to make someone happy). A few years ago, Frank Flynn and Gabe Adams examined the link between how much people spend on a gift and how appreciated that gift is. In one study, Flynn and Adams ran a survey on newly engaged couples and asked the men to report both how much they spent on engagement ring and how much they thought their fiancés appreciated the ring. They also asked the women in the study how much they thought the men spent on the ring, and how much they themselves appreciated the ring. (In case you’re wondering, women were fairly accurate in guessing how much men spent on their rings). Interestingly, for men, there was a significant correlation between ring price and perceived appreciation: they thought that the more they spent on the ring, the more their new fiancés would appreciate the ring. But the same correlation did not exist for women: they saw no relationship between ring price and feelings of appreciation. Flynn and Adams found this basic effect in two more studies: gift-givers regularly assume that a more expensive gift will be more appreciated than a less expensive gift, but gift-receivers don’t feel the same way. Why do gift-givers assume that larger gifts will be more appreciated? Because they assume that larger gifts are linked to greater perceived thoughtfulness. But if you truly want to be thoughtful, one thing to do – as recommended by Flynn and Adams – is to not focus on price, but instead think more specifically about what a gift recipient actually wants.
In case you missed it (and it’s unclear how this would be the case), we are all now in the time of the year that’s no longer known as November or December, but simply “The Holidays.” Aside from eggnog, awkward sweaters, and entirely too much food, this time of year also brings with it some important spending decisions. Two that seem to come up frequently: How much money should you shell out for [you name the person]’s gift? And, if you’re the lucky recipient of a cash gift or a bonus at work, should you spend it or save it? Here are some tips from recent research: