Ward & Broniarczyk on Relational Signaling and Gift Giving

Morgan K Ward and Susan M. Broniarczyk (Southern Methodist University (SMU) and University of Texas at Austin – Marketing) have posted Ask and You Shall (Not) Receive: Close Friends Prioritize Relational Signaling Over Recipient Preferences in Their Gift Choices (The Journal of Marketing Research, (Forthcoming)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract: Gift givers balance their goal to please recipients with gifts that match recipients’ preferences against their goal to signal relational closeness with gifts that demonstrate their knowledge of the recipient. Five studies in a gift registry context show that when close (vs. distant) givers receive attribution for the gifts they choose, they are more likely to diverge from the registry to choose items that signal their close relationships. We find that close givers’ divergence from the registry is not the result of their altruistic search for a “better” gift, but a strategic effort to express relational signals, as…

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