Beautiful wrapping paper ensures that we are happier with the gift

Today, people are just too busy with it: all Christmas gifts must be beautifully wrapped. But does that make sense now? Research shows yes. A nice piece of paper and bow ensures that the gift is more appreciated.

This is the conclusion of a study that scientist Daniel Howard conducted some time ago. He gathered 45 students and had them evaluate four products. As soon as they had done that, they received a gift. While the students thought the research was about evaluating the four products, it was really about their view of the gift: a saddle cover.

First experiment
In the first experiment, half of the students were given the gift in a plastic bag, while the other half were offered the gift in a blue and white gift paper with a matching bow. All test subjects had to state what they thought of their gift on three scales from one to nine (bad-good, stupid-wise and desired-unwanted). The test subjects who received the neatly packed saddle cover were much more enthusiastic about their gift (they gave it an average of 7.14 points) than the test subjects who received it in a bag (they gave it an average of 6.06 points).

For me?
In a second experiment, 82 students received the saddle cover repacked or handed over unpacked. Some of the students thought the gift was for them. The other students were under the assumption that the gift was for someone else. When the students thought the gift was for them, they were happier with the gift when it was packed. When students thought it was for someone else, they didn't care if it was packed or not.

The paper
In a final experiment, Howard looked at whether the quality of the wrapping paper itself affected the view that test subjects had on the gift. Gifts were either not wrapped or wrapped in very nice paper with a bow or wrapped in a dull brown paper without a bow. Again, test subjects preferred a gift that was very nicely wrapped. And when they had to choose between a gift that was not wrapped or a gift that was wrapped in ugly paper, they would rather go for the latter.

In short: it is worth wrapping up your Christmas gifts. Certainly if the gift itself means little (again socks for father and a nice scent for mother). But why does a gift paper actually do us so much? Howard thinks he knows. We have been wrapping gifts from an early age in relation to fun situations in which we feel happy (birthdays, Santa Claus, Christmas). Wrapping paper can put us in a good mood through those associations and ensure that we are even more positive about the gift before we unpack it.