Article | Psychological Science | October 2012

The Gifts We Keep on Giving: Documenting and Destigmatizing the Regifting Taboo

by Gabrielle S. Adams, Francis J. Flynn and Michael I. Norton

Abstract

Five studies investigate whether the practice of "regifting"-a social taboo-is as offensive to givers as regifters assume. Participants who imagined regifting thought that the original givers would be more offended than givers reported feeling, to such an extent that receivers viewed regifting as similar in offensiveness to throwing gifts away (whereas givers clearly preferred the former). This asymmetry in emotional reactions to regifting was driven by an asymmetry in beliefs about entitlement. Givers believed that the act of gift giving passed "title" to the gift on to receivers-such that receivers were free to decide what to do with the gift; in contrast, receivers believed that givers retained some "say" in how their gifts were used. Finally, an intervention designed to destigmatize regifting by introducing a different normative standard (i.e., National Regifting Day) corrected the asymmetry in beliefs about entitlement and increased regifting.

Keywords: Giving and Philanthropy; Attitudes; Behavior; Research;

Citation:

Adams, Gabrielle S., Francis J. Flynn, and Michael I. Norton. "The Gifts We Keep on Giving: Documenting and Destigmatizing the Regifting Taboo." Psychological Science 23, no. 10 (October 2012): 1145–1150.