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Overindividuation in Gift Giving: Shopping for Multiple Recipients Leads Givers to Choose Unique but Less Preferred Gifts
Mary Steffel and Robyn A. Le Boeuf
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 40, No. 6 (April 2014), pp. 1167-1180
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/674199
Page Count: 14
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This research examines how the social context in which gifts are selected influences gift choices. Six experiments show that, when givers select gifts for multiple recipients, they tend to pass up gifts that would be better liked by one or more recipients in favor of giving different gifts to each recipient, even when recipients will not compare gifts. This overindividuation does not seem to arise because givers perceive recipients’ preferences differently when they consider them together versus separately: although givers’ gift selections differ between a one-recipient and multiple-recipient context, their perceptions of which gifts would be better liked do not. Rather, overindividuation seems to arise because givers try to be thoughtful by treating each recipient as unique. Consistent with this, givers are more likely to overindividuate when they are encouraged to be thoughtful. Focusing givers on recipients’ preferences reduces overindividuation and can help givers select better-liked gifts.
© 2013 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc.