Less is more? University of Michigan researchers say old adage rings true at Christmastime
Okay, now let's say your husband gives you an iPod and a $15 iTunes gift card.
I bet you're excited.
But which scenario will you appreciate more?
According to a recent University of Michigan study, the iPod, without the gift card, is likely to be received with the most gratitude.
That's because when people receive gifts, they average the total value of gifts received, instead of adding the sum of all gifts, according to the researchers.
Less, it turns out, really is more."(Gift-givers) are using an adding strategy, like more can't hurt," Stephen Garcia, U-M associate professor of psychology and organizational studies, said in an interview. "But evaluators are actually processing things with averaging mindsets."
Thus, the gift card significantly brings down the averaged value.
"You might actually think you’re creating a more generous package but, ironically, you’re probably diluting the overall value," Garcia said.
Garcia conducted the study with fellow U-M professor Norbert Schwarz, who teaches marketing and psychology, and Virginia Tech researcher Kimberlee Weaver.
The three call the disparity between the gift giver and gift recipient a "presenters paradox."
"Everyday observations suggest, however, that presenters, that is, individuals who are attempting to create impressions, fail to anticipate this averaging-like process on the part of evaluators," they wrote in a paper soon to be published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
Check out the U-M faculty discussing their research below: