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74% of Brits fake positive reactions to disappointing gifts at Christmas – Currys PC World Language of Gift Exchange report

  • Three quarters (74%) of Brits fake positive reactions to disappointing gifts at Christmas – with women (80%) more likely to fake it than men (69%)
  • That’s lovely’, ‘that’s nice’ and even ‘just what I wanted’ can be signs that your gift has disappointed
  • 79% of under-30’s – and 45% of over-60’s – use emojis to say thank-you for a present
  • Currys PC World worked alongside social anthropologist Kate Fox on how to identify when someone does or doesn’t like a present

LONDON, 2015-12-10 — /EPR Retail News/ — With the gifting season upon us, Brits are living up to polite stereotypes with three-quarters of us admitting that we pretend to like disappointing presents.

The Currys PC World Language of Gift Exchange report, compiled by leading social anthropologist Kate Fox and her colleagues at the Oxford-based Social Issues Research Centre, exposes the verbal and non-verbal ways the British public will react to gifts this Christmas. Women are revealed to be the greatest pretenders, with 80% admitting to feigning delight versus 69% of men. Perhaps surprisingly, young people are more polite than their elders: under-30’s are more likely (77%) to feign happiness for a present than the over-60’s (71%).

When it comes to the phrases we use, Brits this year will stick to a range of ‘vanilla’ responses that we feel comfortable won’t give the game away – with a simple ‘thank you,’ or an untruthful but polite ‘that’s nice’ key giveaways that your Christmas present hasn’t gone down well.

Top phrases we use to fake it

  1. Thank you – 52%
  2. That’s nice – 36%
  3. That’s lovely – 31%
  4. Oh…thanks – 23%
  5. That’s just what I wanted – 17%

Although the majority of us admit to faking it, we’re also all convinced we can’t be fooled: almost nine out of ten1of us believe we can identify someone pretending to be happy with a gift – in contrast to the 21% of us who don’t believe they are very convincing at faking it themselves. Leading social anthropologist Kate Fox comments: “People tend to overestimate their abilities as ‘lie detectors,’ and underestimate their ability to lie successfully. We are actually very good at faking delight – such as orgasms – and not so good at spotting fakery.”

When it comes to being truly happy, the report revealed a range of reactions that Brits see as most likely to show the gift-giver has nailed the perfect present. Over a quarter feel that ‘excited repetition’ (such as ‘Thank you! thank you! thank you!’) is the best indicator of genuine delight, with 17% stating that disbelief (such as ‘No way!’) is a sure-fire way to tell that someone is really, truly pleased. A smart minority (14%) know that dilated pupils are the only reaction that is impossible to fake.

Top reactions Brits think reveal genuine delight

  1. Excited repetition (e.g. “I love it!, I love it!”) – 26%
  2. Showing love to the giver (e.g. hugging, kissing) – 23%
  3. Showing love to the gift (clutching, cuddling, can’t put it down) – 19%
  4. Disbelief (e.g. No way! You’re kidding!) – 17%
  5. It’s all in the eyes: dilated pupils – 14%
  6. Gasping, shrieking, yelping – 14%
  7. Stunned silence (too emotional to speak) – 14%

Anthropologist Kate Fox comments: “Although all of these reactions, apart from dilated pupils, can quite easily be faked, recipients of disappointing gifts tend not to perform quite such ecstatic displays, as this could encourage the giver to choose a similarly inappropriate gift next year.”

Those who will be thanking someone via text or social media this Christmas will also present tell-tale signs that they’re truly happy. The Currys PC World survey reveals 65% of us plan to use emojis to express genuine happiness for a present, and one smiley-face is no longer enough: over half of us now feel that multiple repeated emojis or even elaborate, creative emoji ‘sentences’ and ‘stories’  are required to show we’re genuinely delighted. The top emojis used to express genuine delight are:

Anthropologist Kate Fox comments: “The proliferation of emojis in our thank-yous shows that non-verbal signals – smiles, frowns, winks, hugs, tone of voice, etc. – are a vital part of human interaction. When we are deprived of this element, in texts and social media messages, we compensate by using symbolic representations of these signals in an exaggerated manner.”

Gary Booker, Chief Marketing Officer of Dixons Carphone, comments: “We all know that, from time to time, we might get given a pretty awful present from someone who really does care, but who just got it wrong for whatever reason. So we don’t insult them, and because of our British-ness, we feel the need to pretend that we love it – even if we don’t. What’s great about this report is that it helps us Brits to learn how best not to upset the gift-giver this Christmas, and also how to express when we really do love a gift. Most importantly though, it should help people to spot the warning signs that they’ve given a bad present themselves, and encourage them to step up their game next year.”

The Language of Gift Exchange Report comes as the next instalment to the Currys PC World Spare the Actcampaign, which saw Jeff Goldblum teach the nation how to feign delight in the Currys PC World Christmas adverts:


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For more information, please contact the Currys PC World press office:

M&C Saatchi PR / / 0207 544 3600

Notes to Editors
Currys PC World worked closely alongside Kate Fox/SIRC, hosting dedicated face-to-face focus groups and surveying 2,000 UK adults through Ginger Comms.

About Currys PC World
Currys PC World are part of Dixons Carphone plc, Europe’s leading specialist electrical and telecommunications retailer and services company, employing over 40,000 people in 9 countries.

Focused on helping customers navigate the connected world, Dixons Carphone offers a comprehensive range of electrical and mobile products, connectivity and expert after-sales services from the Geek Squad and KNOWHOW.

Combining Dixons Retail’s successful and sustainable multi-channel approach to electrical retailing, with Carphone Warehouse, one of Europe’s largest independent telecommunications retailers, Dixons Carphone plc began trading as a merged entity on 7 August 2014.

For more information about Currys & PC World, please visit or
Follow us on: @curryspcworld

SOURCE:  Dixons Carphone plc.

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