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Science, The Mind

Its Official: Men are Terrible at Christmas Shopping… (but women love getting gifts)

It’s Christmas shopping frenzy time! That’s right, shops and malls everywhere are going to be bursting with families clamouring to get the best gifts for their nearest and dearest. Christmas shopping may be someone’s idea of fun, but I find it all rather masochistic! You risk life and limb tripping over screaming toddlers while trying to avoid marital strife in arguments over whether Aunt Elsie would prefer the pink or blue polka dot scarf!

Do you like Christmas Shopping?

Me? I’d rather relax in front of a log fire with some warm mulled wine!

Are you nodding in whole-hearted agreement or do you think I’m a boring old scrooge?

In case you ever wondered why it is always men rushing around at 4pm on Christmas eve , then read on! 

Given man’s inability to buy Christmas presents, find out why it is a miracle any couples are still together come boxing day..

Scientifically Proven: Men Can’t Shop

Piture this scene: you are off to the shops to buying Christmas gifts and you decide to try a large department store. What do you do?

Shops put a lot of effort into making it easy for us to find their products: signposts, maps and sales assistants. But current research shows that men are hopeless at using them!

Men are more likely to ask for help when they can't find what they need...

If you were to watch men and women shopping, you would see that women would approach the shop in a systematic way; they use signs and store maps to home in on the perfect  Christmas gift. Men charge down the aisles, wandering zombie-like hoping to happen upon the ideal gift.

Women do four times as much Christmas shopping as men, and start the shopping much earilier. So maybe it’s all the shopping practice that makes them such efficient shop navigators?

One in five women do over 10 Christmas shopping trips!

Brain differences in Men and Women: The Reason for Shopping Success

A likely reason for a woman’s superior shopping ability is the wiring of her brain! Women’s use both sides of the brain, giving them the ability to get the ‘bigger picture’ much better than men. Men use the right side of the brain much more, which means that they tend to be focus on solving just one problem at a time.

The left side of the brain deals with emotions and language, the right handles maths and logic

Is it better to give than receive? Not if you’re a woman…

Bettter to give or receive?

If you think that the female of the species really love giving gifts, think again…

In separate Christmas research, men and women from different cultures were quizzed on their most treasured Christmas memories. Forget the carols, cards, food and decorations: Women said that getting gifts was the best part of Christmas! Conversly, men liked giving gifts more than receiving them (despite their inability to buy them)! 

If you value your relationships, don't give money: Research shows it is the least appreciated gift...

Could this be a marriage made in heaven or a recipe for disaster? Given the irony that men are such incompetent Christmas shoppers, I think I have a solution for men: find a trusted woman to do your Christmas shopping for you…

Christmas Shopping Exhaustion: Know the feeling?


Read more about differences in men and women’s brains here

Mark Cleveland; Barry J. Babin; Michel Laroche; Philippa Ward; Jasmin Bergeron Information search patterns for gift purchases: A cross-national examination of gender differences. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, Volume 3, Number 1, September 2003 , pp. 20-47(28)

Laroche, Michel; Saad, Gad; Cleveland, Mark; Browne, Elizabeth Gender differences in information search strategies for a Christmas gift. Journal of Consumer Marketing, Volume 17, Number 6, 2000 , pp. 500-522(23)

Carole B. Burgoyne, David A. Routh, Constraints on the use of money as a gift at Christmas: the role of status and intimacy*, Journal of Economic Psychology, Volume 12, Issue 1, March 1991, Pages 47-69

Lixia Tian, Jinhui Wang, Chaogan Yan, Yong He, Hemisphere- and gender-related differences in small-world brain networks: A resting-state functional MRI study, NeuroImage, Volume 54, Issue 1, 1 January 2011, Pages 191-202

About Stuart Farrimond

I love writing about science and health subjects. Strange, because I also teach the same things. I trained as a medical doctor before turning my hand to other things. Shortlisted for The Guardian/Observer for Science Writer of the Year 2011 and editor for Guru Magazine I also like to grow large pumpkins...


5 thoughts on “Its Official: Men are Terrible at Christmas Shopping… (but women love getting gifts)

  1. Oh no I must be a man then !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by Ruth Behan | December 13, 2010, 12:55 pm
  2. Cream that tastes sweet after freezing… I’m sure I could work that one out, (I just need a while in a darkened room to ponder).
    A mysterious moving mat? That sounds very interesting, perhaps I could ask Hayley, our local paranormal investigator to look into it?! (See blog on ‘Skeptics’)

    Posted by Stuart Farrimond | December 21, 2010, 8:35 am

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