The dilemma of the gift registry : how social closeness intensifies it

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Title: The dilemma of the gift registry : how social closeness intensifies it
Author: Ward, Morgan Kraft
Abstract: When choosing a gift , the gift -giver has three distinct but interdependent goals : the item must 1 ) satisfy the recipient 2 ) be self -reflective for the gift -giver , and 3 ) indicate the nature of the relationship between the giver and the recipient . However , these goals are often mutually exclusive , making it infeasible for the giver to meet both his /her own and the recipient’s needs with his /her gift choices . In both essays we look at how the important moderator of social closeness between the giver and recipient influences givers’ prioritization of these goals . In Essay 1 , we constrain givers to choose from a gift registry and posit that purchasing an identity -incongruent product can threaten an individual’s identity , particularly when purchasing for a close (vs . distant ) friend who is an integral part of the self . Five experiments in the context of gift registry show that givers choosing identity -incongruent gifts for a close (vs . distant ) friend experience an identity threat and seek to re -establish their shaken identities by endorsing the threatened identity and choosing identity -expressive products in subsequent decisions . In Essay 2 we loosen the constraints of the gift choice and allow givers to choose or reject the gift registry . Our main hypothesis is that when choosing for a close (vs . distant ) friend , the giver will discount the recipient’s explicit preferences in favor of a gift that signals the giver’s identity or the relationship between them . However , prior research indicates that close friends choose inaccurately for one another as they conflate their own preferences with those of the recipients’ . Thus we suggest that since givers are more likely to make a free choice (vs . registry choice ) for a close (vs . distant ) friend , they face an increased likelihood of choosing a less desirable gift for their close friends .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /2152 /ETD -UT -2010 -05 -958
Date: 2010-10-01


The dilemma of the gift registry : how social closeness intensifies it. Doctoral dissertation, University of Texas at Austin. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /2152 /ETD -UT -2010 -05 -958 .

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