Dealing with a curious topic of ‘gifts and the receiver’s psychology’, an investment strategist tried to find out what happens if one does not get a much desired gift.

An investment strategist by profession, B. Venkatesh, recently made some pertinent observations regarding the social relevance of gifts. He penned two interesting articles in the Business Line column Simple Economics that explored different angles of the gesture of gifting.    He started off by narrating: “It was my birthday recently and I was expecting a certain book as a present. I did not get the book, but received some useful gifts. I began wondering how it would have been had I received the book I wanted. Neuroscience seems to have an answer to this behavior.”

How, the writer posed a query, and then tried to explain the phenomenon by mentioning: “It is all about the dopamine. This is a naturally produced chemical in our body. It is the cause for our pleasure or depression when we unexpectedly get or do not get what we want. Suppose I were hoping to get the book myself.

My wife, understanding my passion for quirky psychology, gifts that book on my birthday. That would be a surprise — a pleasant one at that. My neural system would release more dopamine and help me enjoy the moment and some beyond.

The writer noted, tracing his emotions, that if he had expected his wife to gift him the book and she did, it would not have been a big surprise. So, his neural network would have released less dopamine. That means less pleasure!

But what happens when the person does not get the desired book as a gift? His or her neural system goes on strike and stops producing dopamine. And that pushes the person into a state of depression, prompting over-reaction at times…

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