When Doing Good Is Bad in Gift Giving: Mis-Predicting Appreciation of Socially Responsible Gifts

12 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2015 Last revised: 2 Jun 2016

Lisa A. Cavanaugh

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business

Francesca Gino

Harvard Business School

Gavan J. Fitzsimons

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business

Date Written: July 8, 2015

Abstract

Gifts that support a worthy cause (i.e., “gifts that give twice”), such as a charitable donation in the recipient’s name, have become increasingly popular. Recipients generally enjoy these gifts, which not only benefit others in need but also make individuals feel good about themselves. But do givers accurately predict appreciation of these types of gifts? Across three studies, we show that gift givers mis-predict appreciation for socially responsible gifts, and that their mis-predictions depend on the nature of their relationship to the recipient. Drawing on research on affective forecasting and perspective taking, we propose and find that givers overestimate how much distant others appreciate socially responsible gifts because they focus more than recipients on the symbolic meaning of the gift. Critically, givers have the most to gain from distant others, in terms of strengthened relationship quality, by making better gift choices.

Keywords: Gifts, Gift giving, Donations, Social responsibility, Ethical decision making, Appreciation, Mis-prediction

Suggested Citation

Cavanaugh, Lisa A. and Gino, Francesca and Fitzsimons, Gavan J., When Doing Good Is Bad in Gift Giving: Mis-Predicting Appreciation of Socially Responsible Gifts (July 8, 2015). Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Vol. 131, pp. 178-189, November 2015 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2628072

Lisa A. Cavanaugh (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business ( email )

701 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Francesca Gino

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Gavan J. Fitzsimons

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States

Register to support our free research

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
122
rank
206,326
Abstract Views
1,407
PlumX