In findings that just make me more anxious about buying Christmas presents, University of Cincinnati and University of Florida researchers ran six experiments in which shoppers were supposed to choose gifts for one or more person, and found that when shopping for 2+ people, gifts were chosen based on variety rather than appeal.
For each study, researchers pre-tested one gift to be preferable to the others. They found that in each trial, shoppers chose the most appealing gift when shopping for one person, while they focused on differentiation for a group. This results in something that the researchers term "overindividuation," in which shoppers lose sight of what their recipients actually want, and end up disappointing them.
With that, the authors of this study have some handy advice for gift buyers: "To help consumers from losing sight of what gifts people would most appreciate, we encourage gift givers to think about the type of gifts the recipient would most likely pick for themselves."
This advice just makes me want to overthink and procrastinate on gift buying even more.