A gift scenario (contains more maths)

Wednesday, July 13th, 2005

More thinking out loud. You’ll be quoting this one day, I guarantee you! 😉

My post yesterday suggesting a formula for the value of gifts may have bored you silly so I thought I’d post an example of it in action.

Let’s imagine a man gives a necklace to his girlfriend. The necklace is worth £500 but he only paid £50. To him it has little use (except perhaps that it keeps her sweet) while to her it has a symbolic use as a way of showing off to her friends that she has someone special. So to start with let’s say that practically speaking it has a value of zero.
He earns £2000 per month while she earns £1300.
Importantly, while she is faithful to him, he is seeinbg at least two other women on the side.
This gives us the following values (note that I’ve amended my formula to take into account the fact that the man only paid £50, but to the woman it is ‘worth’ £500:

rv(G) = the value of the relationship for the giver = 6 (I’m being kind to the two-timing b**tard)
nrv(G) = the number of people with the same or higher relationship value for the giver = 3
fv(G) = financial value = £50
mi(G) = monthly income of the giver = £2000
pv = 0

This gives a gift value from the giver’s point of view of:
gv(G) = ((rv(G) x fv(G))/(nrv(G) x mi(G)))/pv + 1
= ((6 x 50)/(3 x 2000))/(0+1)
= (300/6000)/1
= 0.05

From the woman’s perspective the gift value is
gv(R) = ((rv(R) x fv(R))/(nrv(R) x mi(R)))/pv + 1
= ((2 x 500))/(1 x 1300))/(0+1)
= (1000/1300)/1
= 0.77

For the sake of convenience let’s mutliply the gv(G) and gv(R) results by 100 (giving 5 and 77 respectively). Because final gift value = gv(R) – gv(G) we have a final gift value of 72 on the ‘Gifter Scale’.

Because this is positive, I suggest, the gift has a positive effect on the relationship.

Is this a good score? I don’t know – my theory only suggests that so long as the score is positive the gift will be ‘positive’ – maybe it’s possible to work out a few scenarios to come up with a scale on which gifts can be measured. But the fact that there’s such a big gap between the gft values for giver and receiver could be seen as an indication that the giver is in fact investing little in the relationship, both financially and emotionally.
So to amend my theory somewhat let me suggest that GV should ideally be zero (in other words the value of the gift should be the same for both parties) and the further away from zero it is, the less valuable the gift is as a gift. Whether it is positive or negative hints at the inequality in the relationship, perhaps. (If not, then to get rid of the negative we could square both sides of the equation and get the square root of the result).

There is a case, incidentally, for inputting two different values for practicality based on the fact that the giver here is only receiving a relationship that appears is meaningless and easily replaced ( so give it 0), while the receiver is getting a symbol that can be exchanged for social capital (which is essential to life according to Baudrillard’s system of objects, so give it 6). If you put these figures in as pv(G) and pv(R) the end result changes dramatically.

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