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Why Personalized Products Make People Feel Good

From monograms to mugs, personalized products are popular for good reason. Learn what psychology says about why personalized products make people feel good.

Gifts like initials engraved on a keychain, a name knitted onto a sweater, or the right mix on a playlist can make people happy. Have you ever wondered why? It turns out there is some solid science behind why personalized products make people feel good.

The Difference Between Personalization and Customization

Personalization is when a third-party filters information or products for you based on available data about you and your preferences. Shopping websites and social media respond to your online behavior using data and context to issue those “you may also like” and “you might also be interested in” messages, as well as choosing which ads to present you.

Customization is a little different. When you customize something, you make choices about how to modify an item or product directly, yourself. Examples are choosing the color of your new car or what slogan to print on a t-shirt. Customizing your jeep and other large purchases can improve your mental outlook by connecting you to like-minded people. A customized grille or headlights may bring you closer to fellow Jeep Wrangler enthusiasts. A T-shirt with your favorite Shakespeare quote in a typeface of your choice may connect you to literary kindred spirits.

A Sense of Control

A study from the University of Texas determined there are two primary benefits to personalization. First, it gives people a sense of control. In this study, the customization gave them control of their online media environment. This in turn increased their enjoyment in the media they accessed.

Turning Down the Noise

The second effect noted in the Texas study was that personalization can reduce information overload. When there are thousands of choices, our brains need to filter them to find the ones we prefer.

We already have a built-in filter system called the “reticular activating system” or RAS. That part of our perception helps us determine what to pay attention to and what to ignore. It screens out conversations that bore us and music we find annoying. This is also known as “selective attention” or “selective hearing.”

But as soon as your favorite song comes on or someone says your name, you snap to attention and tune in. Personalization can act as a surrogate RAS to screen out television programs you think are puerile or music you revile, leaving you to choose from a banquet of media that piques your interest.

Personalized products make people feel good, which makes them good gift choices. So, treat yourself to a monogrammed sweater or a customized pair of sneakers from one of several shoe brands or maker sites that offer personalized options in footwear. You’ll feel better for it!


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