One for you, one for me: Giving shared gifts

We know from past research on the mere ownership effect that people tend to like their possessions merely because they own them. But do people also like their possessions more merely because others own them too? Evan Polman (University of Wisconsin–Madison, USA) and Sam J. Maglio (University of Toronto Scarborough, Ontario, Canada) examined this question in the context of gift-giving. They found that when gift givers buy also for themselves what they gift, what the authors call “companionizing”, gift recipients like the gifts more and feel closer to the gift givers. These findings suggest that similarity due to owning the same item as someone else can increase liking of the item – and suggest a simple way to make gifts that are more satisfying!

You can read more about this research here.

Who owns the monkey selfie? The case of animal copyrights

A settlement has been reached in the long-running legal battle over who owns the copyright of the famous “monkey selfie”. The pictures were taken in 2011 in Indonesia by a macaque using camera equipment belonging to the British photographer David Slater. Shortly after, a legal dispute began as Slater objected to Wikipedia Commons’ hosting the pictures. Wikipedia refused to remove the pictures claiming that the copyright belonged to the monkey. In 2015, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) joined the dispute by suing on behalf of the monkey named Naruto, based on the argument that the monkey should be assigned the copyright. Finally, the photographer whose camera was used for the selfie agreed to donate 25% of any future revenue from the pictures to charities dedicated to protecting the monkeys’ natural habitat. Definitely a thought-provoking case raising unique issues about expanding legal rights to non-human animals.

Escaping the bonds of ownership with just a camera click

Parting with our possessions can be tough, especially when it comes to objects we are emotionally attached to. This is unfortunate not only because this would free us some space in our wardrobes and storage rooms, but most importantly because nonprofit organizations almost exclusively rely on donations, which means on consumers’ willingness to give away used goods. A new study by Karen Page Winterich (Pennsylvania State University, USA), Rebecca Walker Reczek (Ohio State University, USA) and Julie R. Irwin (University of Texas at Austin, USA) provides an imaginative solution to this problem. Taking a picture of a cherished possession increases donations because it helps consumers deal with the identity loss associated with giving away sentimental goods. The authors suggest that pictures facilitate decisions to donate because they help keep the memory and thus the emotional value of the object, even in the absence of the object itself. Taking a picture could then liberate us from being possessed by our possessions and do good to others at the same time.

You can read more about this research here.

Just owned – already ‘mine’?

Have you ever wondered how much time is required before we see owned objects as reflections of ourselves? It is known from prior research using various explicit measures such as favourability ratings that people tend to associate owned objects with the self. What is less known though is how long it takes for associations between owned objects and the self to emerge. A new study by A. Nicole LeBarr and Judith M. Shedden (McMaster University, Canada) distinguished between newly-owned and already-owned objects in order to provide an answer to this question with the help of implicit measures. According to the results of the study, people were fast at associating owned objects with themselves even if they had owned them just for a few minutes. Apparently, the time between owning a new object and viewing it as a reflection of ourselves might be much shorter than previously thought.

You can read more about this research here.

Owning our beliefs: Mental materialism and intellectual arrogance

Expanding concepts of materialism and territoriality from material objects to beliefs, new research by Aiden P. Gregg, Nikhila Mahadevan, and Constantine Sedikides (University of Southampton) suggests that people view their core beliefs as valued possessions and develop a sense of mental materialism towards them. As a consequence, people might react with a sense of ideological territoriality when they have to fight to protect their beliefs, which can lead to intellectual arrogance. The authors examine how differences in communion and agency predict whether people take a hostile epistemic stance (rejecting reality) or a deferential one (embracing reality).

You can read more about this research here.

Self-enhancement and other-derogation as explanations of the ownership effect

A novel look into ownership phenomena. People’s tendency to overvalue owned objects has been often explained through self-enhancement – viewing owned things in a more positive light. However, recent research by Yunhui Huang (Nanjing University, China) and Yin Wu (Shenzhen University and Peking University, China) proposes other-derogation as another potential explanation. According to this research, the higher value people place on self-possessions can also be explained by their tendency to view other-possessions less favorably. Other-derogation can be another underlying mechanism that explains the ownership effect besides self-enhancement.

You can read more about this research here.