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Payment method and perceptions of ownership


  • Bernadette Kamleitner


  • Berna Erki


How consumers pay influences how they feel about a transaction. In particular, paying by card has been argued to have an effect on the perception of cost, making it less salient and painful. We propose and show that payment method also influences how consumers feel about the acquired good. Specifically, we focus on effects of the payment method on psychological ownership, i.e., the perception of an object as “mine.” We propose that cash payment results in stronger psychological ownership because it influences the extent of perceived investment in an object. We provide evidence for the proposed effect from field and laboratory settings. Results of a longitudinal exit survey and an experiment show that cash payers report higher levels of immediate psychological ownership than card payers. However, this effect seems to depend on the meanings associated with a payment method. Asian students (who associate credit card payment with investment and debt) do not exhibit this effect. Moreover, the initial boost in psychological ownership seems to be comparably short-lived. While those paying in cash experience no further increase in psychological ownership over time, those paying by card do. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Bernadette Kamleitner & Berna Erki, 2013. "Payment method and perceptions of ownership," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 57-69, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:mktlet:v:24:y:2013:i:1:p:57-69
    DOI: 10.1007/s11002-012-9203-4

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Soman, Dilip, 2001. "Effects of Payment Mechanism on Spending Behavior: The Role of Rehearsal and Immediacy of Payments," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(4), pages 460-474, March.
    2. Feinberg, Richard A, 1986. "Credit Cards as Spending Facilitating Stimuli: A Conditioning Interpretation," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(3), pages 348-356, December.
    3. Hirschman, Elizabeth C, 1979. "Differences in Consumer Purchase Behavior by Credit Card Payment System," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 58-66, June.
    4. Shimp, Terence A. & Moody, Margaret P., 2000. "In Search of a Theoretical Explanation for the Credit Card Effect," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 17-23, April.
    5. Drazen Prelec & George Loewenstein, 1998. "The Red and the Black: Mental Accounting of Savings and Debt," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(1), pages 4-28.
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    Cited by:

    1. Xu, Xiaobing & Chen, Rong & Jiang, Lan, 2020. "The Influence of Payment Mechanisms on Pricing: When Mental Imagery Stimulates Desire for Money," Journal of Retailing, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 178-188.
    2. Hassan, Louise M. & Shiu, Edward, 2015. "The moderating role of national cultural values in smoking cessation," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 68(10), pages 2173-2180.
    3. Kokkoris, Michail D. & Hoelzl, Erik & Kamleitner, Bernadette, 2020. "Self-found, spellbound: The sense of own discovery shapes customer bonds with service venues," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 303-316.
    4. Kamleitner, Bernadette & Dickert, Stephan, 2015. "The two faces of ownership: Introduction to the special section on ownership and economic decisions," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 159-161.
    5. Nicole Koschate-Fischer & Katharina Wüllner, 2017. "New developments in behavioral pricing research," Journal of Business Economics, Springer, vol. 87(6), pages 809-875, August.
    6. Kirk, Colleen P., 2019. "Dogs have masters, cats have staff: Consumers' psychological ownership and their economic valuation of pets," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 306-318.
    7. Khan, Jashim & Belk, Russell W. & Craig-Lees, Margaret, 2015. "Measuring consumer perceptions of payment mode," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 34-49.
    8. Mohammed Hazzouri & Kelley J. Main, 2018. "The effect of control priming on irresponsible financial behavior," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 29(2), pages 207-223, June.
    9. Tobias Schaefers & Stephanie J. Lawson & Monika Kukar-Kinney, 2016. "How the burdens of ownership promote consumer usage of access-based services," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 569-577, September.


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