Gift-giving: you either love it or hate it. Some people adore browsing store aisles, looking for the perfect gift to give to someone. For others, even thinking about what to get a friend or family member can send them into a fit of anxiety.
You’d think that the people who enjoy it, the people who have a lot of friendships and feel secure in their relationships, would be the best gift givers, right?
Wrong. New research out of the University of Baylor in Texas shows that people who have secure intrapersonal relationships are more likely to give people gifts that they themselves would like, rather than something the recipient would like.
This type of gift-giving - called social projection - is most common in securely attached individuals, or people who know they can count on their friends and family members to be there for them. These people are usually older, make more money, and are generally more established.
People with anxious attachment styles, however, aren't as comfortable in their relationships, and are more likely to spend time figuring out what the gift recipient wants, rather than just picking something because they like it. This makes a better gift.
The researchers say that these findings, a summary of over 1,700 people over 5 studies, contradicts what’s long been believed about gift giving.
"The findings of this study are counterintuitive and contrary to much of the literature, which says secure attachments are most desirable and attachment anxiety is only associated with negative behaviors and outcomes," Dr. Meredith David, the author of the study says.
So if you’re happy and you know it, spend some more time thinking about what gifts you’re getting people, because chances are you aren’t actually picking them out for them, but for you.