We Love to Give Gifts – But Perhaps to Different Degrees
“He says presents aren’t important, but I think they are – not because of how much they cost, but for the opportunity they provide to say I understand you.” – David Levithan, My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
Most people love to give gifts. When we asked our community to agree or disagree with the statement, “You love giving gifts,” an overwhelming majority (79%) of all personality types agreed.
While gifts are wonderful to receive, a special feeling comes to us when we give. Most of us like adding something nice and enjoyable to someone else’s life. Gift-giving, in its best form, affirms our love or fondness for someone. It’s a tangible expression of our feelings.
Or it should be. Sometimes we believe we’re obligated to give a gift. But even when we cave to pressure, we acknowledge that the other person is important enough to make the gesture. Even that often comes with a pleasant sense of accomplishment and generosity.
So while all personality types share the tendency to enjoy giving gifts, the results of our survey provide a snapshot of who loves to do it a bit more. Let’s unwrap the data in detail below.
Diplomats (88% agreeing)
Diplomats were the most enthusiastic about gift-giving. Their high sense of empathy is a primary factor in this: the typical Diplomat would understand the emotions around the gift, the larger meaning that it symbolizes. These personality types can also imagine how gratified the recipient might feel. On the other side of the coin, Diplomats might worry that if they do not give a gift, it could cause someone else pain – over a forgotten birthday or a missed opportunity to show a valued coworker that they’re appreciated, for example.
Diplomats’ core traits include the Intuitive Energy and Feeling Nature. While Intuitive personality types were somewhat (4%) more likely to agree than Observant types, the Feeling trait was the strongest predictor of who would agree. Feeling types answered affirmatively at a rate 19% higher than those with the Thinking trait, a significant difference that speaks to the way each decides matters and handles emotions. Personality types with the Feeling trait tend to filter life’s experiences through their emotions. Giving a rose to a loved one, for instance, would be a purely emotional gesture that comes from the heart, symbolically speaking – not from the logical, reasoning brain.
Sentinels and Explorers (79% and 77%)
Sentinels enjoy gift-giving as it relates to traditions, such as holidays, birthdays, or any other time when gifts are a traditional part of the commemoration. They would see giving gifts as an expectation, but not in the same sense as an obligation. It would be expected because that’s what people do when they transmit cultural or religious sensibilities. Sentinel personality types would, for example, know things like the fact that silver is the traditional gift for a 25th wedding anniversary, and they would purchase silver accordingly.
Explorers, on the other hand, love to share beautiful things all the time. That natural impulse is well suited to gifting, and Explorer personalities might give artistic or fashionable presents to their friends and loved ones, or perhaps even more likely, some sort of memorable experience, such as concert tickets or a weekend getaway.
It’s important to note that, consistent with the overall trend, Sentinels and Explorers with the Thinking trait agreed at significantly lower rates than the other members of their Roles with the Feeling trait. Only 58% of Virtuosos (ISTP) agreed, for instance, compared to 87% of Entertainers (ESFP). The Nature aspect plays an important role in the differences between these personality types; Virtuosos tend to get caught up in their own highly rational pursuits and can be insensitive to others around them, while Entertainers thrive in groups and love pleasing people.
Whereas a Feeling Diplomat might give a rose to a loved one as a spontaneous expression of emotion, a Thinking Analyst might give a rose as a gesture that is more disconnected from the heart (and maybe even a little bit calculated), with a rational message attached to it: “I love you… See, this proves it.” This doesn’t mean that Analyst rose-givers aren’t sincere. These personality types would just be more distanced both from their own emotions and those of the recipient. They need to see a practical reason or concrete message intertwined with the giving in order to give in the first place. Because of this, the word “love” in the statement, “You love giving gifts,” may not be exactly right for all Analyst personalities and could account for their lower percentage of agreement.
We have to be careful not to imply a value judgment here. Romantics might tell us that gift-giving should be about pure, unbridled feelings, whereas rationalists might tell us that it’s about doing what is appropriate and productive. In some cultures, certain kinds of gift-giving are very much ritualistic and done in an emotionally detached way. Objectively, who is to say which approach is more correct or meaningful than the other? Perhaps the healthiest balance includes a little of both perspectives.
Social Engagement and People Mastery (87% and 84%)
The second-highest aspect that influenced positive responses was the Mind aspect: the Extravert/Introvert dyad. That the Extraverted personality types belonging to the Social Engagement and People Mastery Strategies were 11% more likely than Introverts to love gift-giving seems natural. After all, gift-giving is a social interaction, and Extraverts are typically more likely to be involved in situations that call for it.
Those with the Turbulent trait were also more likely to enjoy giving gifts than Assertive individuals, but only by 3%. People who are both Extraverted and Turbulent fall under the Social Engagement Strategy. Social Engagers are sensitive and value their social status, two characteristics that lend themselves to gift-giving. These personalities care about the opinions of other people and want to impress them. What better way to do that than to leave them with a present?
As an example, add the Feeling trait to the Social Engagement Strategy and you have the personality type with the highest percentage of positive responses: the Turbulent Protagonist (ENFJ-T) (93%). This type is defined by charismatic, people-oriented individuals, and gift-giving is probably a routine practice for them. Oprah Winfrey, famous for her generosity, is considered to be a Protagonist. Who can forget the episode of her talk show where she pointed to members of the audience and declared, “And you get a car…and you get a car…and you get a car…”?
Constant Improvement and Confident Individualism (78% and 70%)
As Introverted personality types, respondents belonging to the Constant Improvement and Confident Individualism Strategies agreed with our research statement at lower rates. Less likely to seek out social situations, Introverts may consequently give gifts less frequently or enjoy the gift-giving process less than Extraverts. Because people often become demonstrative when they receive a gift, for some Introverts, it’s better to avoid such emotional displays. Additionally, Introverted individuals may just be a little less “other-oriented.”
Assertive Logisticians (ISTJ-A) were the least likely of all personality types to agree that they love giving gifts (54%). These Confident Individualists are Introverted, Assertive, and Thinking types, and as we’ve seen, that is a combination of traits that we can predict will be more averse to gift-giving. Self-sufficient, extremely practical, and goal-oriented, Logisticians are incredibly reliable when it comes to getting work done, but personal or emotional occasions that call for gifts may fall off their radar. Often finding it difficult to express their emotions and affections outwardly, these personalities may view gift-giving as more of a stressful duty than a rewarding gesture.
Do you like receiving gifts? If so, it would pay off to hang out with almost any personality type. Our poll suggests that the majority of us love giving gifts. But if you want to find someone who really loves giving gifts, you might look for an Extravert who relies heavily on the Feeling trait.
Some would argue that the giving of gifts is more universal than giving the occasional wrapped package. Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” The giving of a material gift may be a symbol for giving of the more universal kind. But it should never be a substitute for it.
What’s your gift-giving style? How much do you love it, and how does it fit with your personality traits? Let us know in the comments below.