Key to Getting Holiday Shopping Right, Science Says, Is to Trust Your Gut

Skip the holiday season melt downs by not over-thinking gifts for family or close friends, researchers advise


Still searching for last minute gifts for a dad, girlfriend, sister or grandfather? Skip the holiday season melt-down by not over-thinking it, researches advise. Instead, when it comes to selecting presents for close friends or family, just trust your gut rather than overanalyze.

Intuition, new research confirms, can help people make fast and effective decisions, especially when they have special expertise regarding the subject at hand (i.e., the giftee). Instead of wondering what that special someone wants for the holidays, the researchers say, it may be better to ask yourself, “What do I know about this person?”

In experiments, psychologists tested whether logic or intuition better served a group of volunteers challenged to determine whether a designer handbag was a real or a fake. They asked one group to think about the decision logically, and the other to make a quick judgement call. Among the people who owned their own designer handbags, the intuitive respondents performed best.

While this doesn’t definitively prove that we all secretly know the answer to the perfect gift for a sibling, parent or significant other, it does imply that our intuition can be a valuable tool. When eyeing a would-be gift, the researchers advise, ask yourself, “Is this right or wrong for the person I’m shopping for?” Luckily, though, there is no right or wrong answer—it’s a judgment call. And there are always gift receipts for those times that intuition fails.

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