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A number of questions about gift giving have been raised that are relevant to the field of consumer research.

Lutz (1979) and Tigert (1979) both suggest that product category selection and pricing issues should be addressed. It links product category selection, making decisions about time and monetary constraints, the search and gift selection process with the giver's motivation.

Voluntary gift giving can be manipulative or threatening rather than benign or altruistic (Schwartz 1967).

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The threat of strained relations caused by one partner's failing to honor the gift giving custom may create strong feelings of obligation for both partners.

Through such gift giving acts, individuals may be communicating affirmation of the relationship.

Under such circumstances, the obligation to purchase a gift may be perceived as a threat to freedom, eliciting psychological reactance (Clee and Wicklund 1980), creating a negative rather than positive purchase experience.

In contrast to these occasions, people give gifts from what appear more voluntary motives: to cheer up a depressed friend, share a unique object found in the shopping mall, express apology, concern or affection.

The motivational dichotomy presented here uses a more fundamental motivational distinction in that it subsumes Sherry's altruistic and agonistic dichotomy under the voluntary pole and proposes an opposite motivational pole that: (1) suggests a greater motivational contrast and (2) we think more significantly shapes activities in subsequent stages of gift giving.

This paper represents a pilot study which explores the distinction between obligatory and voluntary gift giving.Rather, the giver may be using the occasion as an opportunity to express sentiments through gift giving.In this case the giver's predominant sentiments are of communicating solidarity or affection, although failure to give would have negative social consequences.A pilot study utilizing a naturalistic data collection technique provides some empirical support for hypotheses developed from the- conceptual scheme based upon obligatory versus voluntary motives.Gift giving has been studied by a number of consumer behavior researchers. More recently, researchers have suggested that gift giving is a multi-dimensional phenomenon.The outcome of the process may vary depending on whether the giver perceives the event as obligatory or voluntary.

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