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UC research: What’s the best gift to give someone?

If you are still in a quandary about what to give a close friend, parent or an adult child for the holidays, then take a tip from a UCLA social scientist, a marketing expert who has researched what kind of gift will make that recipient feel more connected to you.

Cassie Mogilner Holmes, a UCLA Anderson associate professor of marketing who has been called the world’s leading authority on consumer happiness, says giving a gift of an experience — like a gift card to someone’s favorite restaurant — will be more effective at strengthening a relationship than giving material goods.

“What we found was that the recipient feels more connected to you as the gift giver after receiving an experiential gift rather than a material one,” said Holmes, who earned a Ph.D. from Stanford with a focus on social psychology. In her research, she has focused on such thought-provoking questions as what makes people happier — having more time or more money?

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