Meaningful Gifts

Meaningful Gifts

Personality type indicator quizzes output a type based on answers to deep-diving questions. Each of the four letters that spells someone’s emotional identity is chosen from two options: extraversion (E) or introversion (I); sensing (S) or intuition (N) when analyzing information; thinking (T) or feeling (F) regarding decision-making; and judging (J) or perceiving (P) when dealing with incoming information.

The results of this test have been used to structure team-building exercises, facilitate a successful job hunt, gain insight into healthy relationships, and more. Aside from these applications, we wanted to see what patterns form among these nuanced personality types when it comes to the personal act of giving and receiving gifts. Do classically “emotional” types typically show less materialistic tendencies? Do common threads reveal themselves among individuals who share a particular trait?

We surveyed over 1,000 people to find out.

What Men and Women Want

Along gender lines and the introvert-extrovert divide, introverted women expected the least amount to be spent on them when it came to gift-giving – an average of $81. Extroverted men expected the second least: $88.

Introverts unanimously selected cash or a gift card as their preferred gift, also mirrored by extroverted men. The only demographic that did not favor cash or gift cards was extroverted women: Instead, they gunned for a trip or vacation, while also having the highest desired cash value for a gift.

It’s the Thought That Counts

Not much is certain in life, but according to our respondents, we can safely declare the pressure to spend a small fortune on a gift and the expectation for that gift to be a real tear-jerker diminish over time.

There was one caveat, though: The line between “inexpensive gift” and “a gift that costs zero dollars” seemed to be a defining one. Broken down by decade, each age group was increasingly less open to the idea of receiving a gift with no financial backing, ranging from 25 percent of people in their 20s to 10 percent of respondents in their 60s.

Is this because millennials have a general understanding that there simply isn’t enough money to go around at this stage of their lives? In 2017, one survey found 46 percent of millennials had no savings whatsoever – that would have us opting for a heartfelt note or papier-mache creation as well.

Still, on the whole, expected gift value trended downward with age. While 20-year-olds expected the lowest dollar value among the 20-to-45 cohort at $152.40 on average, the graph topped out with 35-year-olds at $216.80. Thirty- and 40-year-olds agreed on a value just above $170, while 25- and 45-year-olds unanimously declared $205. Respondents who were 65 years old reported the lowest dollar value expectation at just $88.90 per gift.

While the dollars and cents jumped around a little, the correlation between time passing and expected sentimentality dipping was much tighter. Respondents in their early 20s reported the highest desire for sentimentality, while respondents in the 65-year-old bracket bottomed out the list. The biggest dip was expressed between 25 and 30 years old.

Gifts For the Ages

It should come as no surprise that respondents in their 20s – an age category populated mainly by millennials – were the most enthusiastic about gifts of technology. As a generation that welcomes and expects tech to be everywhere, from their pocket to their workplace, they were the only age bracket that ranked this type of gift as their number one. In fact, the only other place where gifts of technology was found to be a top contender was among 30-somethings, in second place.

Respondents in their 30s and 40s agreed that a trip or vacation would be the ideal gift, while those in their 50s and 60s both chose restaurant experiences as their favored present. Aside from these similarities among neighbouring age groups, the gift types that ranked second and third among each age group did not seem to follow any particular rhyme or reason.

The sixty-plus crowd was the only group that did not rank trips or vacations, while the 30-year-olds were the only ones to let books fall by the wayside. Twenty-year-olds were also less enthusiastic about restaurant experiences, despite the frequency with which millennials eat at restaurants. That being said, the idea of a restaurant “experience” may not be of interest as much as the convenience of dining out, which would explain why this gift did not rank.

Truly Personalized Gifts

Given the vast number of personality types and the unique nature of each one, respondents who fell into the introverted category (I) had one thing in common: Each listed their preferred gift as being cash or a gift card. For the sake of variety, however, we removed cash and gift cards from this graphic.

Regardless of the unanimity with which introverts expressed an affinity for one gift, their other most desired gift differed quite a bit: Books, vacations, and food all made appearances to varying degrees.

Extroverts were a little more adventurous, choosing music, concerts and events, as well as personal technology. Passionate ENFJs and voice-of-reason ENTPs preferred arts and entertainment, while free-spirited ENFPs most desired a restaurant experience.

Spotlight-seeking ESTPs showed an overwhelming desire for personal technology items at a whopping 70 percent – a gift preference that was not found among introverts.

Value and Sentiment of a Gift

There are many gift-receivers in this world: those who would be over the moon about a macaroni frame as long as it came from the heart and those who would jump for joy over a new computer or fancy handbag. Our survey found that while most personality types hovered around the $12 to $13 mark as a minimum gift value, the numbers topped out in very different places.

The ISTP group, populated by explorers and tinkerers, had the highest-expected maximum value for a gift with their name on it. While their low-end expected dollar value was lower than the average at $11.41, they projected a suitable gift could cost as much as $227. To put that figure in perspective, during the 2016 holiday season, the average American shopper spent $935.58 on holiday gifts for their entire recipient list.

In the realm of sentimentality, 6 of 8 high-sentimentality slots were occupied by extroverts, with ENFP at the top. The opposite was true for the other eight slots on the opposite side of the coin, which were dominated by introverts.

Meaning of a Gift

One heartwarming survey found that, yes, different personality types enjoy the act of gift-giving to varying degrees – but on the whole, people of all kinds genuinely do get a lot of gratification out of sharing presents with their loved ones.

If you’re looking to share a special moment with your giftee, the prevalence of travel and leisure or arts and culture gifts as highly desired means you’re in luck – just make sure to subtly gauge an expected price point, since they tend to fluctuate wildly between personality types. You can also take solace in the fact that the passage of time will usually relax people’s views on how much financial and sentimental firepower should be backing each gift.

The one piece of advice we want to pass on to savvy givers is the following: If you’re unsure of your gift recipient’s personality type, your best bet is to wrap up some cash or a gift card. Our respondents seemed to have quite the affinity for malleable money. To discover a treasure trove of gift card options, check out Our cards are sorted by brand and theme, so you can pinpoint your search with a store in mind or browse cards that cater to movies, restaurants, beauty, and other interests. Take your pick from corporate, VISA, or online gift cards at


We surveyed 1,033 people ranging in age from 20 to 69 years old, with an average age of 36.4 and a standard deviation of 11 years. Respondents younger than 20 and older than 69 were excluded for sample size reasons. Our survey had 395 men, 635 women, and three participants who self-identified as nonbinary. All genders were included in the personality type studies, but those identifying as nonbinary were excluded from the gender-oriented analysis due to the sample size of respondents. We collected a sample size of 25 or more respondents for each personality type except ESTPs and ESFPs, in which we collected 23 and 21 respondents respectively. Respondents who qualified for this survey already knew their personality type. Data were weighted to the U.S. census for age and gender.

Statistical testing was performed on only the last asset that examined gift trends with age. The rest is purely exploratory. We explored the general sentiment around gifts but did not specify as to what occasion or holiday gifts were given.

Fair Use Statement

Interested in sharing our study on the ways to give by personality? Feel free to gift our research to friends and family for noncommercial purposes only, but please link back to us so that we get credit for our work.