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Possession, feelings of ownership and the endowment effect

  • Jochen Reb
  • Terry Connolly
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    Research in judgment and decision making generally ignores the distinction between factual and subjective feelings of ownership, tacitly assuming that the two correspond closely. The present research suggests that this assumption might be usefully reexamined. In two experiments on the endowment effect we examine the role of subjective ownership by independently manipulating factual ownership (i.e., what participants were told about ownership) and physical possession of an object. This allowed us to disentangle the effects of these two factors, which are typically confounded. We found a significant effect of possession, but not of factual ownership, on monetary valuation of the object. Moreover, this effect was mediated by participants' feelings of ownership, which were enhanced by the physical possession of the object. Thus, the endowment effect did not rely on factual ownership per se but was the result of subjective feelings of ownership induced by possession of the object. It is these feelings of ownership that appeared to lead individuals to include the object into their endowment and to shift their reference point accordingly. Potential implications and directions for future research are discussed.

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    Article provided by Society for Judgment and Decision Making in its journal Judgment and Decision Making.

    Volume (Year): 2 (2007)
    Issue (Month): (April)
    Pages: 107-114

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    Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:2:y:2007:i::p:107-114
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    1. Arkes, Hal R. & Blumer, Catherine, 1985. "The psychology of sunk cost," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 124-140, February.
    2. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-48, December.
    3. Carmon, Ziv & Ariely, Dan, 2000. " Focusing on the Forgone: How Value Can Appear So Different to Buyers and Sellers," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(3), pages 360-70, December.
    4. Belk, Russell W, 1988. " Possessions and the Extended Self," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 139-68, September.
    5. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
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