My precious! Investigating how psychological ownership and the endowment effect are influenced by technology, the individual and item inherent attributes

DSpace Repository


Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2021-09-21
Language: English
Faculty: 7 Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Department: Psychologie
Advisor: Hesse, Friedrich (Prof. Dr. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2021-07-23
DDC Classifikation: 150 - Psychology
Other Keywords:
psychological ownership
Order a printed copy: Print-on-Demand
Show full item record


The idea of ownership takes up a vital place in our society. Whether it is ownership over an object, a position or one’s membership in a club, the feeling that something belongs to us is represented everywhere. This feeling is encompassed in psychological ownership. The present work focused on the effect of technology, the actual legal ownership over an object and object related attributes on this concept as well as the behaviour of participants. To do this two studies researched how different input devices affect the amount of psychological ownership participants experience. Here the effect of touch interfaces took center stage being compared to devices like a computer mouse (Study 1) or a keyboard (Study 2). In three studies the effect of actual legal ownership over an object was tested. Study 3 and 4 asked participants who had initial ownership over objects to set prices for selling them whereas participants who did not possess ownership over them where asked to set prices for buying them. Study 5 removed the explicit financial component from the experimental design by simply assessing participants’ willingness to exchange their possessions. This was compared to the baseline attractiveness which was assessed by people's general likelihood to pick one of the two options without having prior ownership over either one. All studies included item specific attributes in their designs. Concerning stimulus specific attributes the valence of the item and the size of the depicted object was used. Studies 1, 3, 4 and 5 either used adjectives or pictures taken out of the IAPS that varied in their valence. Study 2 used pictures depicting real-world objects that varied in their size. The results showed no significant effect of the device used on the amount of psychological ownership perceived over the presented items. Legal ownership on the other hand did significantly influence psychological ownership with people who legally possessed the object tending to perceive higher levels of psychological ownership in the majority of the studies, yet the results are still mixed on the effect. They also tended to consistently set higher prices for those items depicting the classical endowment effect. However, once the financial component was removed by using switching instead of price setting, legal ownership lost its effect on participants’ behaviour. Item specific attributes always showed a significant effect, though. Negative items consistently elicited lower levels of psychological ownership compared to positive ones. Additionally, participants reported to perceive higher levels of psychological ownership over smaller than larger objects. The effect of item valence also stayed significant after the financial component was removed from the task. This indicates a higher importance of item related attributes like item valence and object size, compared to more environmentally dependent variables like the device used to interact with the item or the simple legal ownership over it.

This item appears in the following Collection(s)