Neatness Effects (10-15-19)

As gift giving season approaches, it’s useful to keep top-of-mind the findings of a Rixom-lead team and interesting to consider how their work might be applied in other contexts.  The researchers report that “when recipients open a gift from a friend, they like it less when the giver has wrapped it neatly as opposed to sloppily. . . . Specifically, recipients set higher (lower) expectations for neatly (sloppily)-wrapped gifts, making it harder (easier) for the gifts to meet these expectations, resulting in contrast effects that lead to less (more) positive attitudes toward the gifts once unwrapped. However, when the gift-giver is an acquaintance, there is ambiguity in the relationship status and wrapping neatness serves as a cue about the relationship rather than the gift itself. This leads to assimilation effects where the recipient likes the gift more when neatly wrapped.  We assess these effects across three studies and find that they hold for desirable, neutral, and undesirable gifts, as well as both hypothetical and real gifts.”

Jessica Rixom, Erick Mas, Brett Rixom.  “Presentation Matters:  The Effect of Wrapping Neatness on Gift Attitudes.”  Journal of Consumer Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1002/jcpy.1140