While choosing a Valentine's Day gift for your loved one, you are more likely to hold back if it comes with a free gift, finds a new study which may have implications for merchants, retailers and marketers.
"The tendency is rooted in a friendly intention of trying to maximize the total benefits for the pair, or the so-called "self-other collective," said the team from Universities of Chicago and Florida.
‘People focus on total benefits when making decisions about how to allocate resources between themselves and people they're close to, they choose the option that benefits themselves.’
Seven experiments were conducted to explore different kinds of relationships - including naturally occurring friendships and those developed in the lab.
The activities in the experiments included sampling chocolates, getting massages, sharing cabs and choosing airline mileage programmes.
In one experiment, 63 University of Chicago undergraduates were invited to enter a raffle in which each winner and one person they knew would sample gourmet chocolate truffles. They had to choose between two differently distributed prizes.
The results of each experiment supported the hypothesis that because people focus on total benefits when making decisions about how to allocate resources between themselves and people they're close to, they choose the option that benefits themselves.
In Package A, the winner would receive seven truffles and the other person three, for a total of 10 truffles.
In Package B, the winner would receive two truffles and the other person six, for a total of 8 truffles. The truffles could not be shared.
Almost two-thirds chose the package where they would receive more truffles when participants knew they'd sample the truffles with someone they felt close to.
But when participants anticipated sampling truffles with someone they felt less close to, the fraction flipped, and only about one-third chose that option.
Although consumers generally spend more on gifts for people they are close to, the researchers say, "they might also be more influenced by discounts, sales, and other saving opportunities" when buying for those loved ones.