People Who Hand Out Full-Sized Candy Bars on Halloween Are Generous, Insecure

Your Trick or Treat giveaways, as explained by behavioral economists

Halloween candy
Luke Jones / Flickr Creative Commons
By Kirk Miller / October 30, 2019 12:13 pm

That house that hands out the full-sized candy bars on Halloween?

The people inside might be generous. They also might be hinting at their wealth. Or they might just be trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Most likely it’s all of the above, according to Deloitte behavioral economist Susan Hogan. As she tells Fortune, “A lot of [people handing out candy] has to do with social signaling and how they want to look to others and how people want to look is complex—high status and wealthy and caring and moral.”

And expectations might be getting nudged along by the stores themselves. As author Shannon Fitzgerald notes in her article, Amazon’s Halloween Store is offering full-sized candy in bulk quantities (although it doesn’t seem to be the first thing the retailer showcases), as are chain stores like Costco (though no surprise there).

In addition, some affluent neighborhoods — such as Shady Lane in Ross, CA — block off traffic, decorate houses and turn their local area into kind of a themed tailgate where everyone is expected to participate. Which might pressure you (as a good neighbor) to be very, very generous to the local Trick or Treaters.

Still, if you’re more about fun-size candy, you’re in the majority: 85% of household prefer to give out smaller candy treats, according to the National Confectioners Association’s recent seasonal survey.

Our opinion? Just don’t hand out candy corn, which is gross, and you’ll be fine.

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