ANOTHER ARGUMENT AGAINST SCROOGENOMICS. I have posted several times about Scroogenomics because the subject comes up often at Chistmastime. I use “Scroogenomics” as shorthand for the economics theory that: “Giving specific presents as holiday gifts is inefficient, because recipients could satisfy their preferences much better with cash.” (That very question was posed to a panel of distinguished economists, and as I posted here, 17% of them agreed and 61% of them disagreed.)

This year, Melvin Konner, an anthropologist, wrote an essay in the Wall Street Journal (December 5-6) about the importance of the sentimental value which can be attached to a gift. He cited an article in the November issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology by marketing experts Yang Yang and Jeff Galak which “confirmed something that we instinctively know: People attach feelings to gifts.” He concludes the essay: “So go ahead and buy that blue scarf for the one you love….If she had bought the scarf of her choice, the color would have been right, but it would have lacked the same memories and feelings.”

It’s nice to have some evidence on this issue. In 2009 I posted here, relying only on introspection, three reasons why people should not hesitate to give me Christmas presents, including: “Second, I value the sentiment that attaches to a gift; a gift means more to me because you gave it to me.”

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