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Under such circumstances, the obligation to purchase a gift may be perceived as a threat to freedom, eliciting psychological reactance (Clee and Wicklund 1980), creating a negative rather than positive purchase experience.
Lutz (1979) and Tigert (1979) both suggest that product category selection and pricing issues should be addressed. It links product category selection, making decisions about time and monetary constraints, the search and gift selection process with the giver's motivation.
Accordingly, in socially defined gift occasions the giver's motive may be predominantly voluntary, predominantly obligatory, or some combination of the two.
Thus, whether the precipitating conditions are culturally mandated, centering around widely recognized celebrations, or generated by individual relational dynamics, the giver may be motivated by feelings of obligation, or feelings of autonomy and control (voluntary giving).
In a corporate office setting, a feeling of obligation to contribute to a coworker's wedding may be created by the need for acceptance as a "team player." Families and friends create mutual obligations at holidays and often birthdays, as well as one-sided obligations at weddings, housewarmings, and graduations.
People in dating relationships may develop gift giving customs to honor certain occasions and events such as Valentine's Day.