People might be conflicted about what form a gift should take. And it makes a big difference whether you are giving or receiving a gift, according to a new national poll conducted by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute.

People were presented with the hypothetical example of a gift of $25 in value. When asked if they would prefer to give someone else a gift with a $25 value, a gift certificate or card with a $25 value, or simply $25 in cash, the responses showed 39 percent of people prefer to give a gift certificate. Another 24 percent said they prefer to select a gift while a roughly equal amount favor giving cash.

But when it comes to receiving, by nearly three to one, people would prefer receiving $25 in cash (41 percent) rather than a gift that cost $25 (14 percent). Thirty percent said they prefer a gift certificate.

John Pantzalis, Saint Leo University associate professor of marketing, explained that for someone receiving a gift, cash is desirable because it can be applied to any need or want. “Gift buying is inefficient.” Gift cards and certificates are appealing to givers, he said, said because givers feel they are combining the flexibility of cash with a personal touch and are demonstrating: “I want to buy you something, and I put in a little bit of effort.”

The online survey of 1002 adults was conducted December 1-6 and has a margin of error of about three percent.

To view poll results click here.