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The Science Behind Gift Giving

The Science Behind Gift Giving

So you will have heard the age-old saying "It's the thought that counts" but usually its used when we know we are giving or receiving a gift that isn't quite right. But what happens when we get the art of giving a gift right, a new scientific study has found some interesting results.

What if we told you that gift giving wasn't just restricted to the human realm but is also an important factor in the animal kingdom. You might not believe us but it's true, need proof? Just speak to any cat owner who has ever been presented with the gift of a dead bird or mouse and they will know exactly what we are talking about. But gift giving has an even bigger spectrum. Some species of male spider give gifts to the females in order to encourage mating and similar behaviour has been identified in multiple and varying species including birds and chimpanzees.

But what about us humans? Well neurologically speaking our brains are wired to get pleasure from giving. There is lots of science here and it's not the most thrilling but its sufficient to say that scientists have found when we give gifts the pleasure sensors in our brain light up and that makes us feel happy.

But surely we get just as much pleasure from receiving gifts as we do in giving them? Research suggests the opposite is true. A study in 2006 gave participants the opportunity to receive a cash sum themselves or gift the money to another person. Sure enough, when these people received money their pleasure sensors lit up, just as you would expect it made them feel happy. However, when they gifted the money there was a heightened response in the same sensors that showed a higher level of pleasure was gained when they gave than when they received.

Interestingly another area of the brain that wasn't active in those who kept the money became active in those who gave it away. This part of the brain is related to social attachment and feelings of belonging and friendship.

The lesson here is that when we give gifts we not only make others happy but we also make ourselves happy. In fact, it is natural for us to give gifts and its something we have been doing since the beginning of time. It is so hard-wired into our brains that it affects our very sense of belonging and influences our friendships on a deep neurological level. So what are you waiting for? Check out our gift ideas today and spread the joy. 



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  • Craig Morrison
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