New research suggests that a misunderstanding between givers and receivers of gifts accounts for the taboo against regifting. In one experiment, 117 people said they would prefer to regive a gift than throw it away. In another experiment, conducted by researchers from London and Stanford business schools, the taboo against regifting weakened substantially when the idea of a National Regifting Holiday was introduced. “Hypothetical gift recipients who were informed about that holiday altered their judgment of regifting to the point where it matched that of givers.”
What’s the Big Idea?
The results of the experiments indicate that recipients of gifts believe the original givers are more offended by regifting than they actually are, that givers believe receivers are free to do as they please with the gift, and that receivers feel constrained by the giver’s original intentions. Ever the bean-counter, the Wall Street Journal notes that “potentially millions of dollars of value that simply disappears when people bury gifts in the back of their closets.” So rather than let (the spirit of giving) gifts go to waste, givers should encourage receivers to do as they please.