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为什么最花心思的礼物反而最糟糕?

研究表明,送礼人似乎比收礼人更重视他们自己买的礼物。这种差别似乎源于一个简单又不合时宜的理念,即经过深思熟虑的礼物就是最好的礼物。但实际却并非如此。事实上,它们可能是最差的礼物。你在一个礼物上花费的心思越多,就越不可能买到对方真正想要的礼物。

 

为什么最花心思的礼物反而最糟糕?
Why Thoughtful Gifts Are the Worst Gifts
为什么最花心思的礼物反而最糟糕?

 


By Roberto A. Ferdman 李殊 选 祝平 注

 

 

During all kinds of holidays, millions of people will buy gifts for loved ones. Which is great—except that tons of those people will make the same glaring mistake, and buy the wrong gift.

Roughly 10 percent of gifts are returned each year—and the percentage of unwanted gifts is surely higher given that nice people may not want to return presents. What’s going on?

Gift buying has become a deceivingly selfish pursuit. We don’t actually look for things people want to receive. Instead, and to many of our gifts’ detriments , we tend to look for things that we want to give. It’s a subtle , but pretty significant problem.

The research says so.

“Gift givers want to prove how well they know a person by choosing a thoughtful gift,” Mary Steffel, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati whose research has focused on gift-giving. “But people aren’t very good at anticipating what others want.”

Research has shown that givers tend to value the gifts they buy considerably more than recipients. Gifts are valued roughly 10 to 33 percent less by recipients than what givers paid for them, Joel Waldfogel noted in Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays , his 2009 book on gift-giving.

The discrepancy seems to come from a simple misplaced belief that thoughtful presents are the best presents. They are not. In fact, they might just be the worst presents. The more thought you put into a present, the more likely you are to stray from buying what the person you’re buying the present for actually wants.

“Gift givers tend to focus on what people are like instead of what people actually would like,” said Steffel. “And it’s most pronounced when they’re shopping for people they are close to.”

In other words, people let their gift-giving egos get in the way of great presents. Especially when the recipient is someone they want to show they know really well. Fortunately, the answer to our collective insistence on guessing what people want is simple: stop it.

“People want whatever it is they happen to want in the moment, which can be very specific,” Steffel said. “You’re much better off asking people what they want.” If that’s too callous, or impersonal, there’s another helpful rule of thumb. Instead of buying restrictive gifts, like gift cards for specific stores, buy gifts that allow for flexibility, like gift cards that can be used more broadly (or, better yet, cash). People tend to prefer gift cards to actual gifts, and cash to both, Steffel explained. Steffel’s latest research, which focuses on gift card giving, points to exactly this point—that versatility is the key to better gift giving.

Steffel cited a specific example to show how a giver’s thoughtfulness can miss the mark. Say you have a friend, and that friend really likes margaritas . You might think to buy that friend a margarita-maker.

But a margarita-maker, even if it speaks to a specific quality in that friend (in this case, an insatiable thirst for tequila), is actually a pretty terrible present. In virtually every scenario, a blender, or any other more versatile drink-maker, would be a far superior present. Better yet? Give the friend enough cash to buy the device , suggest it, and then accept the reality that they’re probably going to buy something else they want much more.

Vocabulary
1. glaring: 显眼的,惹人注意的。
2 . deceivingly: 具有欺骗性地。
3. detriment: 造成损害的原因,这里指买到不合适的礼物的原因。
4. subtle: 微妙的,敏感的。
5. Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays: 经济学家乔尔•沃德弗格(Joel Waldfogel)于2009年出版的《送礼经济学》。
6. discrepancy: 矛盾,差异;misplaced: 错位的。
7. stray from: 偏离。
8. ego: 自我,自我意识;get in the way of: 妨碍,阻碍。
9. collective: 共同的。
10. 如果这样做显得太冷淡或者没有人情味儿的话,还有另一条有用的经验法则。callous: 冷淡的;rule of thumb: 经验法则。
11. restrictive: 限制性的。
12. versatility: 多功能性,用途广泛,下文的versatile为其形容词形式。
13. margarita: 玛格丽特,是鸡尾酒的一种。主要是由龙舌兰酒和各类橙酒及青柠汁等果汁调制而成。
14. margarita-maker: 调制玛格丽特鸡尾酒的调酒器。
15. 但是一个鸡尾酒调酒器实际上是一个相当糟糕的礼物,即使这个朋友有这种特质——假设此人是一个爱喝龙舌兰酒的酒鬼。speak to: 证明;insatiable : 贪得无厌的,不知足的;tequila: 龙舌兰酒。
16. scenario: 方案;blender: 搅拌机;drink-maker: 饮料机。
17. device: 装置,设备。


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