Researchers found that wrapping presents too neatly inflates the expectations of what’s inside — while doing a sloppy job actually helps the gift go over better.
The researchers made the surprising finding by studying a group of Miami Heat fans. Some were given mugs with the team’s logo, while others received mugs with the Orlando Magic logo. When a Magic mug was shoddily wrapped, the Heat fans still reported a positive response.
The study also found that bitter feelings over nicely wrapped gifts were likely to be worse when they came from a loved one rather than an acquaintance. “This response happens because when you give a gift to a friend, they know where the relationship stands, so the wrapping serves as a cue about the gift inside,” the author said. “With an acquaintance … if a gift is wrapped neatly, it cues positive feelings about the relationship with the recipient and this spills over to the gift inside.”