In this article that lists reasons people might give a bad gift, Assistant Professor of Psychology Travis Carter noted that those who choose lousy gifts often do so because of misguided inferences based on the recipient’s behavior. Carter even gave an example from his own life, saying he once gave his girlfriend an odor-containing trash bin after she complained about the smell of her kitchen garbage.

“The look on her face, it was pretty clear she was not expecting a trash can,” Carter said. While he had correctly surmised that his girlfriend’s stinky trash can irritated her, “it didn’t bother her on a deep, spiritual level the way that I had interpreted it,” Carter said.