Combining an expensive gift with a smaller gift lowers the value of the overall package to the person receiving the gift, according to marketing and psychology researchers at Virginia Tech in a new study released on Monday.

Don’t bother adding in the $10 gift card with a luxury cashmere sweater because the gift recipient is likely to perceive the cashmere sweater alone as more generous than the combination of the sweater and gift card, said Kimberlee Weaver, an assistant professor of marketing at Pamplin College of Business in a statement.

The gift giver or presenter does not anticipate this difference in perspectives and has just cheapened the gift package by spending an extra $10 on it," said Weaver, who was part of the research team that recently discovered the “Presenter’s Paradox.”

The “Presenter’s Paradox” arises because gift givers and gift recipients have different views, Weaver said. Givers follow a “more-is-better” logic, while receivers evaluate the overall package. The luxury sweater is a generous “big” gift, and the “little” gift, the $10 gift card, will make the total package seem less big.

"This strategy backfires, because the addition of mildly favorable information dilutes the impact of highly favorable information in the eyes of evaluators. Hence, presenters of information would be better off if they limited their presentation to their most favorable information — just as gift givers would be better off to limit their present to their most favorite gift," said Stephen Garcia, associate professor of psychology and organizational studies at the University of Michigan who co-authored the study.

Weaver and her co-authors found that the paradox was shown in seven studies across a variety of product domains, from bundles of music to hotel advertisements, scholarships, and even penalty structures, according to the statement.

The study also looked at penalties for littering. A $750 fine plus 2 hours of community service is seen as more favorable and less severe than a penalty of just the $750 fine.

"Prompting consumers to consider the overall picture entices them to adopt a holistic perspective, which allows them to correctly anticipate evaluators' judgments," said co-author Norbert Schwarz, professor at the University of Michigan in a statement. "But when left to their own devices, presenters are unlikely to notice that evaluators do not share their more-is-better rule."