The Loh Down On Science

You'll love these new insights into choosing gifts!

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Ever wonder why your perfect gift backfired?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

You thought your nephew would love that expensive new video game; turns out he never plays it. 

Givers want to bestow a great gift, and receivers want to get a great one.  The problem is, their definitions of "great" aren't the same.  But don't despair:  New research on gift-giving can help.

Meet Ernest Baskin of Yale University.  He and colleagues randomly divided subjects into giver or receiver roles.  They had them rate gifts on just two criteria:  desirability and practicality.  For example, movie tickets to a faraway theater.  Turns out, givers valued desirability more highly.  "Of course you'd want movie tickets; movies are fun!"  Receivers valued practicality more highly.  "No, I don't want to travel 20 miles to see the summer blockbuster – even for free!"

The team says, imagine the recipient using your gift.  Don't pick an expensive coffee maker that's hard to figure out; give the cheaper one that's simple to operate.

Your family and friends will thank you.  And this time they'll mean it.

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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