The Gift of Psychological Closeness: How Feasible Versus Desirable Gifts Reduce Psychological Distance to the Giver

So Yon Rim, Kate E. Min, Peggy J. Liu, Tanya L. Chartrand, Yaacov Trope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Gift-giving is a common form of social exchange but little research has examined how different gift types affect the psychological distance between giver and recipient. We examined how two types of gifts influence recipients’ perceived psychological distance to the giver. Specifically, we compared desirable gifts focused on the quality of the gift with feasible gifts focused on the gift’s practicality or ease of use. We found that feasible (vs. desirable) gifts led recipients to feel psychologically closer to givers (Studies 1-4). Further clarifying the process by which receiving a desirable versus feasible gift affects perceived distance, when recipients were told that the giver focused on the gift’s practicality or ease of use (vs. the gift’s overall quality), while holding the specific features of the gifts constant, they felt closer to the gift-giver (Study 5). These results shed light on how different gifts can influence interpersonal relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018



  • construal level theory
  • gift-giving
  • psychological distance
  • social distance
  • spatial distance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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