Doctoral thesis

Gifts, emotions and cognitive processes : an inquiry of gift receiving from a consumer psychology perspective


223 p.

Thèse de doctorat: Università della Svizzera italiana, 2016 (jury note: Summa cum laude)

English Gift exchange is a universal, social, cultural, and economic phenomenon. Over the past 90 years, it has fascinated scholars from different disciplines within the social sciences thanks to its diffusion across societies and centuries. Since Marcel Mauss' foundational paper (1925), scholars have agreed on the social integrative function of gifts, which are tools to build and maintain relationships. Giving gifts generates a virtuous circle of reciprocity, within which gifts are exchanged to attain a balanced reciprocity between the parties. Gifts are also intrinsically associated with identity definition and influence recipients' and givers' self-view. Above all, the gift is a symbolic communication, "a language that employs objects instead of words as its lexical elements" (Caplow, 1984, p. 1320), by which the giver communicates a variety of meanings, such as affection for the recipient, image of the recipient, or intention with regard to the relationship with the recipient.
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