Presentation Matters: The Effect of Wrapping Neatness on Gift Attitudes
Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2019
44 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2019 Last revised: 26 Aug 2021
Date Written: October 1, 2019
While gift-givers typically wrap gifts prior to presenting them, little is known about the effect of how the gift is wrapped on recipients’ expectations and attitudes toward the gift inside. We propose that when recipients open a gift from a friend, they like it less when the giver has wrapped it neatly as opposed to sloppily and we draw on expectation disconfirmation theory to explain the effect. Specifically, recipients set higher (lower) expectations for neatly (sloppily)-wrapped gifts, making it harder (easier) for the gifts to meet these expectations, resulting in contrast effects that lead to less (more) positive attitudes toward the gifts once unwrapped. However, when the gift-giver is an acquaintance, there is ambiguity in the relationship status and wrapping neatness serves as a cue about the relationship rather than the gift itself. This leads to assimilation effects where the recipient likes the gift more when neatly wrapped. We assess these effects across three studies and find that they hold for desirable, neutral, and undesirable gifts, as well as with both hypothetical and real gifts.
Keywords: gifts, gift-giving, gift-wrap neatness, wrapping paper, expectation disconfirmation
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