Pro-Social Spending: Exploring the Psychological Phenomenon of Giving and Getting Gifts


You will often hear people say that they get more out of giving a gift than receiving one, and many psychological studies have indicated that we humans benefit from the act of doing good for others. By being more generous, you can improve your financial position and your mood.

From make me something special personalized gifts to taking the time to understand your recipient, the art of giving gifts (and receiving them!) could be more rewarding than you initially thought!

Improving Your Mood

A study by Harvard Business School found that giving money to others instead of just spending it on oneself resulted in far greater happiness. This was also backed up by Sonja Lyubomirsky, a happiness expert from the University of California Riverside. She found that these types of results are typical and that parts of the brain that are associated with social connection and pleasure are stimulated when someone gives to charity.

It is also thought that altruistic behavior can produce a more positive feeling as endorphin levels are boosted in the brain; leading to the term “helper’s high”.

One’s mood can also be affected in other ways by being generous and kind. The act of giving and the more this is done helps people to feel more positive about their surroundings and life in general. In essence; someone acting positively by giving to others is more likely to recognize positive things in their surroundings, thus feeling more satisfied with the world that they’re living in.

Increasing Cooperation

This connection with the world around us when we give can also help to reward us in the future. Giving not only enhances the health of those around us and improves our social interaction but it can also lead to reciprocation when one needs it. For example, if someone falls on hard times but they’ve been giving and generous prior to this, people are more likely to return their generosity.

Altruistic behavior, it seems, can influence others, motivating them to be kinder and more generous, which will eventually come back to you in an act of kindness later on in your life. Behaving generously helps to inspire those around you to behave in a more generous way. Therefore, this type of behavior spreads not only from person to person, but it can also spread from groups of people to other groups, and from a single individual to an entire group.

Studies indicate that by showing gratitude to loved ones, it can help to strengthen the bond between these people. Our own personal happiness is also boosted when we show our gratitude to others. This includes receiving words of thanks from others and expressing your own thanks when you receive a gift from someone else.

Releasing Hormones

Oxytocin is a hormone that can be associated with the act of gifting. More commonly associated with breastfeeding, oxytocin helps to strengthen the bond between a child and their mother. Studies also show that when this hormone is released, it provides us with a feeling of euphoria and warmth, helping us to connect with others and to improve the bonds we have with people. Research conducted by Claremont Graduate University found that the release of oxytocin can help us to be more generous towards each other, while also allowing us to feel more empathy too, even towards strangers.

In Summary

There are many things that we can learn from the psychology of giving. Firstly, we can see that giving to others can actually be more beneficial to our own well-being that we may have previously realized. In giving, we are boosting our mood, which, in turn, provides us with greater benefits when it comes to our physical and mental health.

Secondly, accepting gifts is also a form of giving. By taking a gift from someone and thanking them for it, you are providing them with positive feelings, creating a bond between you and reinforcing the benefits of gifting to them. By accepting a gift, you’re not being selfish but are also helping the well-being of the giver of your gift.

Giving gifts is an act of kindness but it has far more benefits to it than just this and can inspire those around you to feel more positive about the world that we live in. So, next time you’re buying a gift for someone or you’re receiving a gift, just think of the multitude of benefits you and your loved one will receive!

From deep within the Surrey hills in England, Ben Griffiths owns a family-run business that’s all about making something special for each and every customer. His wooden gift products are made completely by hand with elegant and bespoke craftsmanship that are completely unique and beautiful.

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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