How the Ownership of Something Increases Our Valuations


By Shahram Heshmat Ph.D.

People tend to become extremely attracted to objects in their possession, and feel anxious to giving them up. This explains why unemployed people are reluctant taking up another line of work, because they would have to give up the friends, family, and home to which they have become attached. Even our views of mate value change the more time we spend together. The longer we spend with our mates, the harder will be to simply let go, regardless of how unhappy we are. Why? Three psychological factors about human nature explain this bias.

1. The emotion of ownership

We develop attachment, and we don’t like to lose things that we own. Even touching an object increases feelings of ownership. As soon as you feel something you become a partial owner of that item. And it becomes difficult to let go, regardless of whether you need or can afford the item. This partly explains why car dealers want you to test drive the car, encouraging you in everyway to imagine what it would be like to own the car.

Ownership is not limited to material things, it also apply to ideas. Once we take ownership of an ideology (about politics or sport) we tend to value it more than it is worth. However, we run the risk of dismissing others’ idea that might simply be better than ours. As a teacher (and a parent), I have learned that a good strategy to help students adopt a new idea would be to provide opportunities for them to come up with the ideas on their own. People generally have positive attitudes toward themselves, and they enhance the value of their choices and devalue the road not taken.

Analysis – This passage helps to gain a psychological perspective on the value of ownership, as it relates to consumers and their possessions. Understanding this from a psychological standpoint will help to inform my interview question deck, in a way that maintains a sensitivity to the manner in which interviewees talk about their ownership experience.