The Psychology of Gifting

Gifting is hard, but we’ve got it down to an art- using science. Somewhere on our website or socials, you might have seen us mention that we use Psychology to match up people’s personality traits with gifts. Well, here’s the background to that!

The Big 5 Personality Model

The ‘Big 5’, also known as the 5-Factor Model or OCEAN (an acronym for the 5 personality traits) is the most widely used personality model used in Psychology today. According to the model, our personalities can be boiled down to these 5 traits. Everyone falls along a continuum of all 5, so we don’t ‘have them’ or ‘not have them’, we just have ‘more’ or ‘less’ of them. Although different situations can bring out different levels, Psychologists reckon these traits are pretty stable over the course of our lives.

This study looked at the effect of the Big 5 Personality traits on recreating types (in tourism) and found that activities matched to peoples’ personality profiles resulted in happier, more satisfied customers (of course!). It might feel strange to think that our personalities can be boiled down to 5 dot points, but there’s a lot of good that can come from a clear understanding of these traits. Including having a framework for buying people amazing gifts that you KNOW they’ll love. Because science!

Fun fact: Previous models of personality had as many as 4000 personality traits, so we’re pretty happy they settled on 5!

What are these 5 personality traits- and how can you use them to buy incredible gifts?



People with high levels of this trait are usually great at parties and can make anyone comfortable with the interest they show in them! They love to throw themselves at new opportunities, particularly if they can learn something new, and tend to appreciate art.

So how can you apply this to gifting?

New experiences are the obvious one. Take them to do or see something they’ve never experienced before and they’ll love you for it! (Skydiving anyone?) In terms of more tangible gifts, they’ll go crazy for a new skill, so puzzles, toys and kits are always a win.



People high in Conscientiousness are efficient, organised, and detail-oriented. They probably have clear goals and a method for achieving them and tend to be very polite, because they’re super aware of the impact their words and actions could have. Think about your most reliable and thoughtful friends – they probably rate high on this scale.

So how can you apply this to gifting?

If you’re taking them out for a trip, give them a detailed itinerary. They’ll appreciate knowing what’s happening when. Aside from that, think about gifts that help them in their pursuits. How about a course, some sessions with a coach, or beautiful stationery to give a luxurious touch to their preexisting organisation system. If you want to avoid anything work-related, give them something they can win or solve. Riddles, puzzles, and problem-solving games will hit the right buttons for these guys!



People high in Extraversion tend to be – extraverts! This means they LOVE social interaction. They’re chatty, excitable, and can usually be found at the centre of attention. Great conversationalists, people with lots of this are skilled at making people feel comfortable and heard, which also means they tend to be good leaders.

So how can you apply this to gifting?

These guys are all about human interaction so whatever you give them, make it something they can do with other people. Group activities and games that require teamwork are the go- especially if it places them at the centre of attention!



People with high levels of Neuroticism are creatures of habit who love their routine. They’re highly emotionally intelligent and self-aware and can be a bit of a perfectionist. They can be quite cynical and have a sharp sense of humour. They’ve also been found to enjoy bargaining activities.

So how can you apply this to gifting?

Stick to something they know and love, anything too new will stress them out. If you’re stuck for inspiration, think about things they’ve done before or pay extra attention to what they have at their place. What do you see? Look for gifts that are similar to what they already have (but nicer!). That ‘bargaining activity’ is an interesting angle too- think about games or activities that involve betting or an element of negotiation.



Friendly, compassionate and caring, people high in Agreeableness are great listeners with bucketloads of empathy. They’re loyal, helpful, and usually do things with the good of other people in mind.

So how can you apply this to gifting?

We’re not saying gifts for these people should only benefit other people, but think about things they can do that is good for other people too. Something they can make and then share (like a baking kit!) will give them all the warm and fuzzy feelings.

There’s the rundown. Do these traits sound familiar? Where do you think you (and your loved ones) fall on the scales?

Check out our GiftMatcher Quiz for crazy-good gift boxes matched to these traits!

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