The 'Masculine Mystique:' Men's Involvement in Gift Giving, Gift Receipt and Gift Occasions


Cele Otnes (1994) ,"The 'Masculine Mystique:' Men's Involvement in Gift Giving, Gift Receipt and Gift Occasions", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 21, eds. Chris T. Allen and Deborah Roedder John, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 158.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 21, 1994      Page 158


Cele Otnes, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Much of the research on gift exchange behavior has supported the conclusion that gift giving is primarily the domain of women in American culture. However, several sociological trends (e.g., the rise of nontraditional families and increase in single-person households) may cause men to become more involved in gift exchange than in the past. Moreover, many studies of gift exchange have primarily employed women in their samples. Thus, the purpose of this session was to bring together three papers that focused solely upon men's involvement in gift giving, gift receipt and gift occasions. These papers examined men's attitudes and activities towards giving during three separate occasions.

The first paper presented was "Men in Mourning: Gift Receipt and Funeral Planning from the Male Point of View," by Kina Mallard of Union University. In-depth interviews were conducted with fifteen men who had recently experienced the death of a close relative or friend. Mallard explored the following questions: 1) What artifacts, such as cards, flowers, honoraria, meant the most to you?; 2) Which of these gifts did you keep and why?; and 3) What aspects of the funeral do you most remember? Mallard reported that men tended to value intangible gifts more than tangible ones, and tended not to keep gifts that were given at the funeral. Furthermore, many men also regarded the planning of the funeral as a chore, and were careful to consider the desires of the recipient when planning the funeral.

The second paper, "The Pleasure and Pain of Being Close: Men's Mixed Feelings About Participation in Valentine's Day Gift Exchange," by Cele Otnes (University of Illinois), Julie A. Ruth (University of Washington) and Constance C. Milbourne (Leo Burnett, U.S.A.), is published in its entirety in this volume.

The third paper was titled "A Toast for the Host? The Male Perspective on Gifts that Say 'Thank You,"' by Margaret Rucker, Anthony Freitas and Jamie Dolstra of the University of California, Davis. This study was designed to investigate attitudes and practices associated with hospitality gifts. ANOVA results indicated that men expected to pay over $25 for thank-you gifts, and that Asians expected to pay more than other ethnic groups. Many purchases were low-involvement products such as alcoholic beverages. Furthermore, males reported that the status of the host or hostess would clearly affect the type of gift they would bring, with high-status individuals warranting more expensive gifts.

Our discussant for this session was Russell W. Belk of the University of Utah, who provided many thoughtful comments and a thorough analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each paper. A lively question and answer period followed, that stimulated many ideas upon the role of both men and women in gift exchange occasions.



Cele Otnes, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 21 | 1994

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