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
Date Written: July 8, 2015
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
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