As always, context is crucial.

The assumption with wine, chocolates, flowers etc is that the recipient gets some economic utility from it — so a gift that has no utility can be problematic (as a boy, I once spent Christmas with a friend who had emigrated a few months earlier, and my mum had given me some presents for him and his family, including a box of cigars for my friend’s dad, who was — unusually at the time — a non-smoker…)

But even if not that extreme, I think that people might be less appreciative in the way you describe when the sum total of the economic and the social utility is less than the apparent cost of the gift. In other words: if you strongly feel that you would not have wasted that amount of money on that item, the gift will backfire.

This risk goes up quickly with the cost of the gift. Imagine the difference between getting a £20 bottle of wine, and getting a £500 bottle of wine.

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Accidental behavioural economist in search of wisdom. Uses insights from (behavioural) economics in organization development. On Twitter as @koenfucius

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