Tag Archives: gift


Giving, not receiving, is the secret to happiness unceasing

‘Tis the season to be jolly, indeed!


Image via Pixabay.

All those gifts you prepared for your loved ones this Christmas likely made you feel really happy, new research reveals. The study, carried out by a duo of US researchers, suggests that giving really makes us happier than getting.

Big red sack’o’goodies

“If you want to sustain happiness over time, past research tells us that we need to take a break from what we’re currently consuming and experience something new,” says Ed O’Brien, a psychology researcher at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and paper co-author.

“Our research reveals that the kind of thing may matter more than assumed: Repeated giving, even in identical ways to identical others, may continue to feel relatively fresh and relatively pleasurable the more that we do it.”

Our brains do this annoying thing called “hedonic adaptation” — basically, we feel less and less happiness for a particular event or activity each time we experience it. That’s why things stop feeling ‘fresh’ after a while, boredom sets in, and we go for the next thrilling thrill. However, giving to others may be exempt from this type of adaptation, the paper reports.

The team, composed of O’Brien and Samantha Kassirer (Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management), found that participants who repeatedly gave gifts to others felt consistently happy. Those who repeatedly received the same gifts felt declining levels of happiness, they add.

In the first trial, the team worked with a group of 96 participants, randomly assigned to either of two groups. They would receive $5 every day for 5 days, which they had to spend on the exact same item every time. However, one group was asked to spend the money for themselves, while the other was asked to spend it for someone else (by leaving money in a tip jar at the same café or making an online donation to the same charity, for example). At the end of each day, participants were asked to reflect on the ‘spending experience’ and how much overall happiness they felt.

Participants started with similar levels of self-reported happiness, the team explains, but the two groups had diverged significantly by the trial’s end. Those who spend the money on themselves reported a steady decline in happiness throughout the 5-day period. Those who gave their money to someone else, however, felt no such decline: they got just as much joy out of giving the fifth time as they did the first time.

The team carried out a second trial online, which allowed them to keep the tasks consistent for everybody. Working with 502 participants, the researchers set up a 10-round word puzzle game. Players won $0.05 per round, which they could either keep or donate to a charity of their choice. After each round, participants disclosed the degree to which winning made them feel happy, elated, and joyful.

Here, too, self-reported levels of happiness were more stable for those who donated the winnings instead of keeping it for themselves. One of the explanations the team is considering is that participants who gave to others had to think longer and harder about what to give, which could promote higher happiness.

“We considered many such possibilities, and measured over a dozen of them,” says O’Brien. “None of them could explain our results; there were very few incidental differences between ‘get’ and ‘give’ conditions, and the key difference in happiness remained unchanged when controlling for these other variables in the analyses.”

The team writes that when people think in terms of on an outcome (i.e. ‘how much money I made’), they can easily compare with other outcomes — these are quantifiable results. The comparison, however, sours the experience, diminishing an individual’s sensitivity to it. When we focus on the action (such as donating to a charity), however, we’re not as interested in the outcome — because of this, we can focus on the act of giving, treating it as a unique, happiness-inducing event. We may also be slower to adapt to happiness generated by giving because giving to others helps us maintain our prosocial reputation, reinforcing our sense of social connection and belonging.

Still, the results can use some fleshing-out. One particular area of interest for the team is how would the findings hold when dealing with larger amounts of money. They would also be interested to see if giving to friends, rather than strangers, would generate a different experience for the giver. Finally, they would like to expand the research beyond money — prosocial behavior includes a wide range of experiences, they explain.

“Right now we’re testing repeated conversation and social experiences, which also may get better rather than worse over time,” O’Brien explains.

The paper “Impediments to Effective Altruism: The Role of Subjective Preferences in Charitable Giving” has been published in the journal Psychological Science.

Even small gifts can convince customers to buy, new study reveals

If sales agents bring a gift (even a small gift), they’re much more likely to score a sale, a new study suggests — but only sometimes. The fact that small gifts can make such a significant difference can easily be understood as a conflict of interest, raising intriguing questions about what actually constitutes a bribery.

There’s often a fine line between small gifts and small bribery attempts. Where do you draw the line between a small token of appreciation and an attempted bribery? Surely, most people would agree that something small, like a chocolate, is not a bribe, whereas something more substantial, like money, is. But between chocolate and money, there’s a line to be drawn, and it’s not always clear where the line should sit.

Furthermore, what if even the small chocolate would be problematic?

In a controlled field experiment carried out in pharmacies and drugstores, Michel Maréchal and Christian Thöni of the universities of Zurich and Lausanne investigated whether small presents in business relationships have an influence on the behavior of the recipient.

In the experiment, sales representatives gave their customers six tubes of toothpaste — an almost negligible gift in terms of market value. But this seemingly insignificant token sometimes had a noticeable effect on some clients, making them twice more likely to buy.

But there’s a catch: this only worked if there was a previous business relationship, if the buyer and the seller knew each other. In fact, if the two didn’t know each other, the gift likely had an opposite effect.

“Turning up with a gift right at the beginning of a business relationship may seem calculating and is therefore counter-productive,” remarks UZH Professor Michel Maréchal on the finding. “But if there is already a relationship, the customer perceives the gift as a token of thanks and an indication that the relationship is appreciated.”

The effect also wasn’t spread uniformly. For low-level employees, it made an almost negligible effect, whereas for bosses, the value of the order increased more than four times, from an average of 61 Swiss francs to 271 francs. This presumably happens because bosses have the most power, but it also suggests that bosses could use a bit more responsibility when making purchases — particularly when receiving gifts beforehand.

“They also bear the most risk, however, which makes it surprising that they were willing to order so many products,” says Christian Thöni of the University of Lausanne.

Journal Reference: Michel André Maréchal and Christian Thöni. Hidden Persuaders: Do Small Gifts Lubricate Business Negotiations? Management Science. October 1, 2018. DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.2018.3113

15 Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Doctors and Medical staff

If your Valentine is a doctor or training to be one, but you still have no idea what to get him/her, here are a few suggestions:

1. Medical design pens and post-its

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In a hospital or clinic’s turmoil, pens are lost every day. Nurses and doctors fight over the remaining ones all the time. Make sure your loved one has a particular writing tool, that stands out and impresses everyone from the practice. It might not seem like a big or important gift, but rest assured: they will be forever thankful.

2. Funny Mug for Vets 

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Let’s not forget that veterinarians are doctors as well. Or should I say ‘dogtors’? This mug surely makes me giggle every time I see it.

3. Anatomy coaster set

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Medical employees tend to be clean freaks, let’s be honest. Make sure this year that you will score some points by showing that you care about the furniture by buying a set of coasters.

4. Brain hat

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This brainy knitted hat is the most awesome way your SO will be warm and comfortable. Let’s not mention it’s funny as hell.

5. Unisex Galaxy Print Glow in the Dark V-Neck Scrub 

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Make your loved one feel the universe is there for them. Reach for the stars even in gloomy days with an awesome scrub that glows in the dark.

6. Prescription wine glasses

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We all need from time to time to relax. Even doctors.

7. Silver Lifeline Pulse EKG Heartbeat Charm Necklace

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Women like jewelry but they love jewelry with a message. Saving lives is her purpose. She will adore this gift, as it will make her feel you truly get her.

8. Doctor Wine Holder 

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Doctor figurines that are there for you and hold the booze, too. What can be more romantic than spending Valentine’s day with your loved one and this little guy?

9. Sterling Silver Medical Caduceus Cufflinks 

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For special occasions, but not only. Your man will feel distinguished wearing these silver cufflinks that symbolize medicine. It’s a reminder of hard work and dedication, and they will wear them proudly.

10. The New Yorker Book of Doctor Cartoons

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Humorous doctor cartoons that will make anyone crack-up. Laughter is the best medicine, right?

11. Synapse Receptor Watercolor Print 

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Great for a neurologist’s office, or even for the living room. Nothing says ‘I love you’ more than knowing your significant other’s true passion.

12. Silver Lifelike Anatomical Heart Locket


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Cardiologists have the biggest hearts. This necklace is unique and will offer you a place in her heart forever.

13. Red anatomical heart pin

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Just imagine how cool this pin would look on a white doctor’s coat.

14. Radiology bone socks

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Radiologists are old fashioned, they prefer black and white movies and photos. Why not buy them a pair of bony black and white socks?

15. Heartbeat hoodie


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Show your lover your heart is theirs and you don’t mind it. These cool hoodies are unisex and come in different colours such as black, white, grey, maroon and red.

Disclaimer: Purchasing these products may earn ZME Science a commission. This helps support our team at no additional cost to you. We will never advertise products if we don’t think they’re good. If something is here, it’s because we like it — period.

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Hot Gift Ideas for the 2012 Holidays

The holiday season has finally begun. As you read this, I’d probably be out in the mall finding presents for friends, family – and of course – myself. Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, flew by so fast – these three usually kicks off the holiday shopping season. I’d like to believe that I’ve officially prepared myself for this, as I’ve written down and carefully weighed in the latest gadgets that I believe would make for great gifts this Christmas.


Perhaps the hottest item Christmas shoppers are eyeing today is the iPhone 5. There’s nothing really outstanding or revolutionary about this latest release from Apple; it’s just that many people already have it on their wish lists as early as, say, its September 12 unveiling in San Francisco. While most features remain the same, the iPhone 5 is sporting a new OS (iOS 6), a new processor (A6 chip), and a taller and bigger screen. Fans have gone head-over-heels with the feather-light new version of the phone, too.

Although the iPhone 5 tops a lot of wish lists this year, it’s highly likely to end up in the “wishful thinking” lists of people instead. Terrific wallet-friendly alternatives like the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, the Samsung Galaxy S3, and the HTC Droid DNA, however, can make up for the high-end appeal people eyeing the iPhone 5 are after.


In this specific gadget arena, Apple once again reigns supreme with its outrageously popular iPad. Its two latest incarnations, the iPad 4 (with Retina display) and the iPad mini, are currently the hottest tablet devices in the market. Just the same, competitors such as the Nexus 7 from Google and Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite are not too far behind, selling like pancakes due to their respective price tags. If you’re considering gifting yourself or a loved one a tablet and you’re on a strained budget, perhaps you could get the cheaper tablets so you’ll have more money to spend for other gifts.


There are three general preferences for laptops this season: ultra-thin, hybrids, and touch-enabled laptops. The trend could be largely attributed to the release of Windows 8, the latest OS offering from Microsoft, which is basically carried by every new laptop from any given manufacturer (except for the ones from Apple, of course). If you’re after a device that perfectly fits the ultra-thin, sleek, and slim bill, then HP’s Envy Spectre XT will undeniably be a good buy. For those looking for “hybrids” or convertible laptops, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 which bends up to 360 degrees or the slider-style Toshiba Satellite U925t are automatic shoo-ins.


Aside from the usual smartphones, tablets, and laptops, here are other tech gifts surely worth checking out:

  • Cameras. Olympus Stylus Tough TG-1 rugged compact camera, Nikon’s D3200 entry-level DSLR, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 all-around point-and-shoot, and the Canon PowerShot S110 Wi-Fi digicam.
  • Audio. Klipsch Image S4i earphones, the weird-looking yet improved earphones Apple recently released called Earpods, and the bang-for-the-buck Audio-Technica ATH-M50 professional studio monitor headphones that never goes out style.
  • Games. NBA Live 2K13, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Dishonored, and Halo 4 are just some of the hottest multi-platform games out there.
  • Paid Services. Gift your friends with subscriptions to useful services such as the Insync Google Drive backup and sync tool, RingCentral Office business phone solution, a Flickr Pro account, or a Chatter Plus account for collaborative messaging efforts.

Shopping for the holidays can be a tough task; but with a little knowledge of what’s in and what’s hot in the tech marketplace, decision making would be a tad easier. Now the only thing that’s left to do is to procure the funds needed to buy even one of these drool-worthy gadgets.