Gifts Are Better When There's A Deadline

Gift cards are perfect gifts for the person who has everything, but—contrary to what one might assume—gift cards are more fun for the recipient when they expire sooner rather than later.

Photo by brettneilson.

Why? Because as anyone who's found an expired gift card buried deep in a junk drawer knows, you're more likely to use that gift card when you get it if it's going to expire soon. Turns out that, just like work, short deadlines force people to get fun done, too.

"While individuals given a longer time frame are more positive about and expect to be more likely to complete an enjoyable task, they are actually less likely to do so," the behavioral economists Suzanne B. Shu and Ayelet Gneezy write in an article under review at the Journal of Marketing Research.

As The Atlantic points out, that means that if you're looking to give someone a gift certificate to that day-spa, it might be best to ask for a short expiration.

The Gift-Card Economy [The Atlantic via Freakonomics]


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