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It’s the thought that counts — not
Stanford researchers say. Givers apparently spent more on a gift to impress a
the money — when it comes to gifts recipient with their caring, not their cash,
the researchers suggest. Yet recipients
Givers often don’t shift their perspective to that of the receiver preferred gifts that they really needed
or that had special personal meaning,
The research, described by Flynn and regardless of price.
Stanford graduate student Gabrielle Tina Lowrey, a marketing professor at
Adams online November 18 in the Jour- the University of Texas at San Antonio,
nal of Experimental Social Psychology , calls the new research “an intriguing first
reflects the broader interest in exploring step” toward using experimental meth-
the extent to which people ods to untangle how gift
can shift their perspective prices relate to gift appre-
duringsocialencounters. ciation. But as indicated
In three different inves- by earlier interview-based
the more they
tigations of gift exchanges studies of people who made
among adults, the research- real-world gift exchanges,
ers consistently found that many factors influence how
givers wrongly assumed that givers and receivers behave
money spent on gifts would and react, Lowrey says.
buyrecipients’appreciation. In this study, the team
“I suspect we’d see differ- surveyed people who had
ent results if we studied gift given or received engage-
but we find that
appreciation among chil- ment rings and people who
that’s not the
dren,” Flynn predicts. Kids, had given or received birth-
more than adults, focus pri- day gifts, asking partici-
marily on the nature of a gift pants to estimate the price
rather than its source. and rate the expected or actual amount
Gift givers reported that relatively of appreciation. In a third study, the team
expensive purchases best conveyed surveyed people who imagined having
thoughtfulness and consideration, the received a CD or an iPod as a gift.
By Bruce Bower
It’s enough to give pause to any financially strapped Santa Claus, and perhaps
elicit his applause. Don’t worry about
cutting back on holiday gift spending
during hard times for fear of disappointing others, at least if they’re grown-ups.
People appreciate receiving modestly
priced gifts as much as they do expensive ones, although gift givers typically
don’t realize it, a new study shows.
For as yet unclear reasons, gift givers
are often unable to use their experience as
gift receivers to identify especially meaningful gifts for friends and loved ones, says
Francis Flynn of Stanford University.
“People assume that the more they
spend on presents, the more those presents will be appreciated, but we find that
that’s not the case,” Flynn says. This
result raises the possibility that lavish
gifts are often viewed by their recipients
as ostentatious gestures rather than generous ones.
left genes behind
Inquisition couldn’t quash
Moorish, Jewish presence
By Tina Hesman Saey
Hold the history book presses. The Moorish invasion of Spain was never completely
repelled, a new genetic analysis reveals.
As many as one in 10 men from Spain
and Portugal still carry genetic evidence
of North African ancestry, and nearly
twice that number have Sephardic Jewish
ancestors, reveals a study in the Dec. 12
American Journal of Human Genetics.
Those results don’t fit with expectations
from the historical record.
Sephardic Jews, who were probably in
the Iberian Peninsula since Roman times,
were all supposed to have fled the region
in the wake of pogroms and persecutions
between the early eighth and 14th centuries. In the late 15th century, 160,000
Spanish Jews (Sepharadh is the Hebrew
word for Spain) were expelled and settled
largely in other parts of the Mediterranean, the new study recounts.
Moors from northern Africa swept into
Spain in 711, colonizing the peninsula and
spreading Islam. But during the Spanish
Inquisition, Spanish Muslims were also
driven out or forced to convert.
from 1,140 men from the Iberian Peninsula shows that, although large numbers
of Sephardic Jews and Spanish Muslims left, their descendants and a strong
genetic presence remained.
The study, led by Francesc Calafell
of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Pompeu Fabra University in
Barcelona and by Mark Jobling of the University of Leicester in England, indicates
that modern events can shape human
genetic landscapes more than suspected.
Studies such as this one “tell the true
history of everyone’s ancestors and not
just the history book lessons of kings and
queens,” says James Wilson, a population
geneticist at the University of Edinburgh