The gift of similarity: how good and bad gifts influence relationships

Elizabeth W. Dunn, Jeff Huntsinger, Janetta Lun, Stacey Sinclair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

We tested the hypothesis that gifts act as markers of interpersonal similarity for both acquaintances and close relationship partners. Participants were led to believe that a new opposite sex acquaintance (Experiment 1) or romantic partner (Experiment 2) had selected either a desirable or undesirable gift for them. In Experiment 1, men viewed themselves as less similar to their new acquaintance after receiving a bad versus good gift from her, whereas women's perceived similarity ratings were unaffected by gift quality. In Experiment 2, men reported decreased similarity to their romantic partner after receiving a bad gift, whereas women responded to the bad gift more positively; perceived similarity, in turn, had an impact on participants' evaluations of the relationship's future potential. This research highlights the need for more experimental work on gift-giving, which has been largely overlooked by mainstream social psychologists despite its economic and interpersonal significance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-481
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Cognition
Volume26
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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