Want to impress someone with your holiday gift but don’t have a ton of cash? Try buying something heavy.
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Charles Spence, head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at the University of Oxford, recently spoke to the New York Times about what to do to impress people with gifts this holiday season. His advice is simple: Bulk it up.
Spence’s research is focused on how our brains perceive the world around us. Previous findings of his studies include how curved shapes tend to enhance the sweetness in food, and that people enjoy wine better if it’s served in a heavy glass and kicked off with a cork pop.
For gifts, Spence says that there’s an association between weight and the perception of luxury. When it comes to items such as wine, perfume, cutlery and tableware, the heavier it is, the more expensive we think it is. That’s why when you buy a bottle of wine at a restaurant the sommelier might hand you the bottle briefly so you can feel how heavy it is.
That theory also extends to colours. Black is the colour that most people associate with luxury because it’s the colour we perceive to be the heaviest. So if you buy someone a black item, they’re likely to perceive it as nicer than one that’s a different colour.
How you package that gift is also important. Try wrapping something in a gift bag with tissue paper. Spence says that “the crinkles add an extra sense to the experience”. You can take things a step further by also including a squirt of fragrance and/or have classical music playing while the gift is being opened to hit all the senses.
Spence says that engaging several senses at once can be beneficial, but you can go too far. While more brain activity often influences how rewarding something is perceived to be, if one sense doesn’t match the others the whole thing can backfire and be too much for your recipient. Keep things subtle and you’re bound to impress.