Motives toGive

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It is not so much the content of the gift but its spirit that counts. Not

the object itself, but the motives and feelings of the giver determine its

impact on the recipient. The value of a gift is predominantly measured

according to the personal investment that has been put into it, and not

so much according to its monetary costs. Self-made presents to which

muchpersonal attention, effort, and time are spent figureamongthe most

valued gifts. One cherishes the gift of a piece of jewelry that belonged to

an ancestor, not so much because of its economic value but because of

the memory it embodies. The small shell from the beach that lovers give

to one another represents minimum economic but maximum symbolic

value. In that particular shell all the love of theworld resides. The material

aspect of a gift is subordinate to the motives of the giver.

What psychological motivations are involved in gift giving? In what

follows, an attempt is made to categorize motives.Where possible, illustrations

from the Dutch study on gift giving are used. These illustrations

are drawn mainly from the field of care and help because these motives

were most clearly crystallized and more easily expressed than was the case

with the other giving activities (psychological motives to give are often

largely unconscious).