Courtesy versus efficiency: Personal gifts and monetary gifts – Preferences and norms in Israeli society

Liora Daum-Avital, Ofer H. Azar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research analyzes gift-giving and gift-receiving in the Israeli society. We examine the behavior and norms that Israelis adopt for ceremonial occasions such as weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, birth celebrations and birthdays, in order to understand the abandonment of personal gifts and the embracing of monetary gifts instead. An online survey was sent to a diverse sample of participants all over Israel. We included in the sample secular, traditional, religious and ultra-orthodox respondents in order to examine possible differences in gift-giving norms between these populations. We also analyzed how ethnicity and additional demographics affect various behaviors and perceptions related to gift giving. The results show that there is a rejection of personal gifts and a preference for monetary gifts. Compared to monetary gifts, personal gifts are perceived as more personal and having a sentimental value, but also as more disrespectful, cheap, inappropriate and unappreciated, and less practical and functional. We also discuss the business implications of the social norm of giving monetary gifts. This norm allows to organize more expensive events and benefits the event halls, which in turn encourage high spending of hosts based on expected gifts, by allowing them to pay most of the amount after the event.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number102019
JournalJournal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2023


  • Celebrations
  • Etiquette
  • Events
  • Gifts
  • Social norms

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Applied Psychology
  • General Social Sciences


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