Sloppy-Wrapped Gifts May Surprise People When They Open Them

The wrapping of the gift affects the recipient’s expectations. (Photo via

Research published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology shows that neatly wrapped gifts create anticipation, leading to lower liking after opening the gift. Therefore, sloppily wrapped gifts are likely to create more surprises.

Miami, FL (WS News Publisher) – Gifts on the market are getting more and more refined! In theory, people should be happier with neatly packaged gifts. However, a study from the United States shows that a neatly wrapped gift makes the recipient look forward to it more, expecting it to be a good gift, and may cause them to like it less after opening it.

The researchers recruited 180 college students who were fans of the Miami Heat and not the Orlando Magic. The researchers prepared 90 Miami Heat mugs and 90 Orlando Magic mugs to ensure that half of the students were given the desired gift, while the other half received what they did not want. On top of that, half the gifts were neatly wrapped, and the rest looked sloppy.

When the students arrived at the lab, each received a gift distributed randomly. After opening the package, the researchers assessed how much they liked the gift. The evaluation found that people who received wrapped sloppily liked their gift more than those who received wrapped neat – no matter which mug they received! This is an interesting experimental result.

To understand why, the researchers found in a follow-up study that people used wrapped as a clue as to whether a gift was good or not and set too high a bar for neat wrapping, expecting it to be a good gift. On the other hand, sloppy-wrapped gifts are set with low expectations, implying that they might be a poor gift. Therefore, even if it is the same gift content, wrapped sloppily can bring surprises.

When the gift comes from an acquaintance, the recipient prefers a neatly wrapped gift. (Photo via

On the other hand, the relationship between the giver and the receiver also affects the gift score. The researchers surveyed a nationally representative sample of 261 adults and asked them to imagine being at a secret gift-exchanging party. Next, the researchers asked participants to randomly look at the images and imagine receiving a neatly wrapped or sloppy gift.

In addition, half of the people need to imagine that the gift comes from a close friend, and the others need to imagine that the gift comes from the acquaintance. Finally, the researchers showed the gift and asked participants to rate it.

The results showed that the recipient preferred the wrapped sloppy one when the gift came from a close friend. When gifts come from acquaintances, recipients prefer wrapped neatly. The analysis found that the recipients believed that the wrapped neatness meant that the gift-giver valued their relationship, and the content of the gift was not the most important.

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