Positive Feeling

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A first and most common category of motives expresses friendship, love,

gratitude, respect, loyalty, or solidarity. These gifts have as their main

purpose to communicate our positive feelings to the recipient. Some of

the motives reported by our respondents are strongly other-directed and

altruistic: one wants to contribute to another person’swell-beingwithout

thinking about a return service; one helps or cares because one feels a

general moral obligation to do so. The most important moral criterion

in people’s considerations concerning their gift giving is related to need:

one gives because the other needs it, without expecting any return in

the first place. One example involves a female respondent who helps

her demented mother with her finances: “Yes, you should do that as a

daughter, I think. You don’t receive in return somuch anymore, but that

is not important.” And: “I am a human being, so I have to help a fellow

human. That’s how it is.”

However, even such gifts may (consciously or unconsciously) have

a strategic aim. For instance, gifts may express our desire to forgive,

to repair some wrong in the past, to ease our conscience, to flatter, to

attract attention, or to maintain our presence in someone’s life. Giving to

charity is another example of benefiting another personwhile at the same

time relieving our own conscience. The latter example clearly shows that

contributing to another person’swelfaremay serve one’s own self-interest

at the same time.