A growing body of research has demonstrated that feelings of possession influence the valuation of personal possessions. Psychological theories of ownership suggest that a special bond between a person and his/her possession arises in response to the innate motivation for effectance, self-identity and need for home. However, current empirical support is insufficient to make a causal link between these psychological needs and feelings of ownership. In four studies (total N > 800), we manipulated people's basic needs by inducing feelings of ostracism, which threatens the needs for belonging, self-esteem, control, and belief in a meaningful existence. Despite the fact that these social needs are closely related to the putative antecedents of feelings of ownership, the ostracism manipulation did not significantly affect participants’ feelings of ownership, or their valuations of their possessions, whether measured by willingness to accept or willingness to pay. These results suggest that the special bond that people have with their belongings is not readily used to restore basic psychological needs following the experience of social exclusion.
- Psychological ownership
- Endowment effect