Do you think of borrowed money as ‘your money’?

If you borrow money from someone, it is, by definition, money that is available for you to use but owned by someone else. Despite this feature of borrowed money, Eesha Sharma (Dartmouth College), Stephanie Tully (Stanford University) and Cynthia Cryder (Washington University in St. Louis) find in their recent research that consumers can experience feelings of psychological ownership of borrowed money. In their current article, the authors establish the concept of psychological ownership of borrowed money and investigates its implications for consumer borrowing. They observe that consumers experience psychological ownership to differing degrees: Consumers might think of a credit as belonging to the bank that lent it or rather as their own money, similar to using their cash. This variation predicts which consumers are more willing to use borrowed money. The authors point out that differences in psychological ownership do not merely reflect a misunderstanding that borrowed funds must be repaid, but psychological ownership of borrowed money reflects the extent to which consumers subjectively feel that borrowed money is their own.

You can read more about this research here.

The more high-end an owned item, the longer the intended duration of ownership – Are Luxury and Sustainability one and the same?

Consumers who adopt a lifestyle of “slow-fashion” purchase fewer, higher-end products that will last longer in comparison to cheap products that will be quickly thrown away. In their recent research, Jennifer J. Sun (Columbia Business School), Silvia Bellezza (Columbia Business School), and Neeru Paharia (McDonough School of Business) propose that purchasing luxury products can be more sustainable than purchasing lower-end products because of their longer lifespan. Although high-end products may be more durable, consumers still prefer to allocate the same budget on multiple lower-end products instead of purchasing fewer higher-end products. Consumers in general believe that high-end products last longer, but they fail to consider the product’s durability when making a purchase. Thus, marketers of high-end brands face the challenge of how to best educate their potential consumers in discerning the high quality and durability of their goods. However, it is relevant to mention that the authors also touch upon the darker sides of luxury. In that sense, product durability alone may not lead to comprehensively sustainable business practices.

You can read more about this research here.

Are Your Fries Less Fattening than Mine?

Buying a bigger package of chocolate bars to share with your friends? Or sharing fries at a restaurant with your partner? How does that impact your health?

The popularity of share-size snacks and shared plate options in restaurants has grown and so did concerns over how food sharing may be impacting health. Nükhet Taylor (Ryerson University) and Theodore J. Noseworthy (York University) address this question in their current research. Their empirical studies suggest that food sharing reduces perceived ownership, which, in turn, leads people to mentally decouple calories from their consequence. Sharing food is not biasing caloric estimates but sharing is biasing how consumers construe the consequence of their caloric intake. Lower perceived ownership makes caloric intake seem inconsequential as food appears less fattening when it is shared.

You can read more about this research here.

SJDM Poster Award 2020: Signaling Status by Acquiring Ownership (vs. Access)

As an alternative to ownership, access-based consumption allows consumers to gain access to products by paying a usage fee. Such fees tend to be lower than purchase prices. Can access-based consumption therefore reduce perceived social inequality?

Two weeks ago, Yang Guo (University of Pittsburgh) and Cait Lamberton (University of Pennsylvania) presented their poster “Signaling Status by Acquiring Ownership (vs. Access)” at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making (SJDM 2020). Their research challenge the assumption that access-based consumption reduces social inequality by highlighting the role of acquisition modes (owning vs. accessing) as status signals. Ownership maintains a premium in status signaling, and thus, access-based consumption may even intensify rather than reduce social inequality. The research by Guo and Lamberton shows that individuals have a higher subjective social rank when they own but their friend accesses similar products, compared to when acquisition modes are reversed. However, the status signaling effectiveness of acquisition modes changes as a function of payment structure (when ownership is achieved via extended payments vs. an immediate lump sum), and the framing given to the access-based alternative (when access-based consumption is framed as a rent-to-own option).

By showing that access-based consumption options may not effectively reduce perceived social inequality, Yang Guo won the Society of Judgment and Decision Making’s Student Poster Award. Congratulations!

You can find the poster here.

Evolution of Consumption: Are technological innovations changing our relationship with the goods we own?

Smartphones, online platforms, technological advances in collecting consumer data – How are these developments changing our relationships with the goods we own? In their recent article Morewedge, Monga, Palmatier, Shu, and Small (2020, you can find the article HERE) state that while technological innovations create value for consumers in many ways, they may disrupt psychological ownership–the feeling that a thing is “MINE.” This constitutes a potentially big challenge to consumers and marketers and it is a an insight that chimes in well with earlier research that suggests that considerations of (psychological) ownership are needed to understand how consumers behave in digital spheres (you can find  Kamleitner and Mitchell’s 2019 article “Your Data is my Data” HERE or download their book chapter “Personal data and (psychological) ownership” HERE).

To address the question of how psychological ownership is affected by technological developments, Morewedge, Monga, Palmatier, Shu, and Small (2020) suggest a psychological ownership framework in their article. They propose that technological innovations are driving an evolution in consumption along two major dimensions. The first dimension of change is from a model of legal ownership, in which consumers purchase and consume their own private goods, to a model of legal access, in which consumers purchase temporary access rights to goods and services. The second dimension of change is from consuming solid material goods to liquid experiential goods. The authors propose a psychological ownership framework, in which these changes and effects are organized, and examine this framework across three macro trends in marketing: (1) growth of the sharing economy, (2) digitization of goods and services, and (3) expansion of personal data. The framework predicts when technological innovations will threaten, transfer, and create opportunities to preserve psychological ownership, and it helps to identify research opportunities for marketing scholars.

This nice overarching framework aligns well and can be complemented with other recent findings on psychological ownership. For example, Ruzeviciute, Kamleitner, and Biswas (2020, you can find the article HERE) show that a sense of visceral proximity to an object, an experience that can be triggered via the object’s scent, instills psychological ownership and in turn product appeal. Perceived proximity thus enhances feelings of ownership, but we cannot touch or smell online products. Maybe the advancement of digital scent delivery technologies could thus be added to the opportunities to preserve psychological ownership for online products in the future. Another recent finding is likely to hold implications for the identified challenge. In times of online recommendation systems and omnipresent advertisements in online media, consumers are often trying out new products based on suggestions that were made to them. Yet, Kokkoris, Hoelzl, and Kamleitner (2020, you can find the article HERE) and Kirk, Peck, and Swain (2018, you can fine the article HERE) find that consumers are more likely to psychologically appropriate things they discovered autonomously and intended to discover it. Maybe toning down the recommendations and letting consumers discover offers by themselves may equally buffer against a loss of psychological ownership when it comes to purely digital access-based products.

The importance of the findings discussed above is that they show that current developments and innovations are changing consumption models and that psychological ownership is a valuable lens through which to understand and manage the consumer experience. Psychological ownership is a central theme and provides many opportunities for further research. Certainly, upcoming developments will raise important questions, to which the concept of psychological ownership can make a valuable contribution.

Using Psychological Ownership to Enhance Stewardship Behavior for Public Goods

The tragedy of the commons is a well-known problem we face: How can consumers be encouraged to take better care of public goods? In their recent research, Joann Peck (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Colleen P. Kirk (New York Institute of Technology), Andrea W. Luangrath (University of Iowa), and Suzanne B. Shu (Cornell University) use marketing knowledge to address issues of sustainability for public resources. The authors propose that psychological ownership over a public good, i.e. people feel as if the property is one’s own, increases the propensity for stewardship behaviors. Their research shows that individual-level behavioral intervention of increasing psychological ownership is able to affect nonowners’ behavior toward resources. These findings offer new insights into how social welfare can be improved and can benefit marketers of public good.

You can read more about this research here.

Ownership of the Birth Experience

A GUEST COMMENTARY BY YASMINE L. KONHEIM-KALKSTEIN

Over the past few years, I have delved into research on childbirth.  My research always gets inspired by something personal, and this line of research was no exception.  I had a horrible first birth experience, where things felt out-of-control, scary, and resulted in an emergency cesarean birth.  I was left traumatized and upset.  I had a healthy baby, but sometimes this made me feel guilty that I was upset over my birth experience.  It turns out, I was not alone in struggling with the memory of my birth experience. Many women desire a sense of ownership of their birth experience.  They desire a certain experience and a feeling of control, in addition to the clear goal of a healthy outcome.  While birth usually ends with the positive outcome of a baby being born, many women experience negative feelings after birth, particularly when their birth did not go according to expectations.

Decision making during childbirth is particularly unique, in that it requires negotiating the risks of mother and unborn baby, interpreting uncertain diagnostic information, and balancing a patient’s desire for control with the authority of the healthcare provider, in an event that can stretch for days with ongoing challenges. And sometimes the challenges mean a deviation from a woman’s initial expectations.

A common instance of unmet expectations is an unplanned cesarean delivery (UPCD).  Compared with planned cesareans and vaginal births, women with UPCDs experience greater disappointment and feelings of failure, are at greater risk for postpartum depression, and post-traumatic stress.

My own research has revealed that support during an unexpected birth experience matters, and can come in many forms: emotional support, informational support, decisional inclusion, and even just practical support (such as handing someone a pillow) (Konheim-Kalkstein, Miron-Shatz, & Israel, 2018).  In our research, we found that being included in decisions and being given emotional support were more predictive of satisfaction during an unplanned cesarean birth than a woman’s personality, her desire for control, or how prepared she felt going into childbirth (Konheim-Kalkstein & Miron-Shatz, in preparation).  In other words, what happens during the experience matters.  We also found that emotional support during labor and delivery can mitigate regrets women have about their experience, and is associated with women advocating for themselves.

Including women in the decision-making process, or at least giving them emotional support helps them retain a sense of ownership over the experience.  We are currently analyzing data from women who describe the least supportive moment of their birth experience.  In moments where women felt least supported, some women described a loss of ownership over what was happening in their environment.

For example, women shared how they felt least supported when conversations or jokes they didn’t want to hear intruded on their experience:

“When my doctors and nurses were talking about baby names they hated while I was being cut open”

“The hospital staff was making jokes to one another preparing me for the csection.  Inside jokes while I was worried about my baby. It felt awful.”

Women shared about the moments they were not provided with an explanation of what was happening. They were missing information to help them feel in control.

“just told me I was having csection didn’t really give much help or explanation.”

“when no one would tell me why I couldn’t see my baby”

Women shared about moments when they were dismissed by healthcare providers.

“when no one was listening to me during the c-section when I said it hurt/I could feel it while I was being stitched up”

“when my doctor didn’t bother to tell me the baby was born nor if we were both okay…”

Women also shared about when they weren’t included in decision-making:

“I didn’t realize I even had an option to hold off on having a csection”

“When deciding how I was going to deliver. I was not included in anything, just told what to do”

A core value of patient-centered care is the principal of shared decision making, where important medical decisions happen in conjunction with patients and by considering their values and preferences, the scientific outcomes, and the physician’s clinical expertise. For birth specifically, a feeling of control over the birthing process has been shown to be related to satisfaction.  When women are dismissed, not informed, or not included, their birth satisfaction is affected.

In contrast to the quotes above, consider these moments women picked out as the ones they felt most supported in their unplanned cesarean birth experience.

“when the nurse asked if I wanted to her to stay when things started progressing”

“when the nurses took copies of my birth plan and passed them out”

“my Ob drove in on during the middle of the night after 30 hours of labor for my emergency c-section. Before the surgery, he held my hands and asked if I was okay and explained what was happening and how I might feel as different things happened in the surgery. He made me feel very heard and considered and valued…”

In childbirth, when birth plans go awry, a woman loses some control.  After all, a healthy mother and baby is, above all, most important.  However, our research highlights the importance of emotional support and decisional inclusion.  Women don’t expect to be the experts in the delivery room.  But they do benefit from being informed, included, and at the very least, feeling heard. Giving a woman control where possible (e.g., letting her decide little things like music during surgery), acknowledging the loss of her plan (taking that extra minute to empathize), and providing information can help a woman still feel as if she owns her birth experience.

Research published:
https://pediatrics.jmir.org/2018/2/e12206

About the author: Yasmine L. Kohnheim-Kalkstein, P.h.D. currently works at the Mount Saint Mary College. Yasmine does research in Health Psychology, Educational Psychology and Cognitive Science.

Whose is it? How young children use territory to understand ownership.

A GUEST COMMENTARY BY ORI FRIEDMAN

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Photo by Rowan S on Unsplash

Suppose you walk by a house and see a potted plant in the yard. You may not know who lives in the house, but you can be pretty sure the plant belongs to that person. This example illustrates how easily we can use territory to make judgments about ownership. But sometimes these judgments may be more complicated. Suppose an undiscovered diamond is buried in the yard. Or suppose a bird took an earring from someone’s window ledge, and dropped into the yard. Would these things also belong to the person living in the house? Regardless of how you answer these questions, your answers to these kinds of questions may be informative about how you understand ownership, and how you understand the relation between territories (like the yard) and things found in them.

To explore the roots of this understanding, my graduate student, Brandon Goulding, and I examined how young children answer such questions. We conducted six experiments. In each experiment, young children were shown simple pictures of two houses and their yards. There was a man in front of one of the houses, and we asked children about whether this man owned various objects that were in each yard.

In our first experiment, the objects were things commonly found in people’s front yards in Canada (i.e., where we and the participating children live). Our participating children were aged 3 to 5, and at all ages they mostly said the man owned the things in his yard, and they were likely likely to say he owned the things in his neighbor’s yard. These findings gave us a first indication that young children use an object’s location to figure out who owns it. It might seem obvious that children should make such judgments, but it is worth remembering that children never saw anyone touch or use the objects.

In our next experiments, we wanted to see how children would respond for objects that the homeowner did not intentionally acquire or even know about. In the second experiment, the yards were initially bare. But while the man was away, seeds blew into the yards, and beautiful flowers and ugly weeds quickly grew in them. The participating children (3-5-year-olds) were more likely to say the man owned plants in his yard, compared with ones in his neighbor’s yard. They were also a bit more likely to agree he owned flowers than weeds. This shows that children use territory to judge that people own objects they did not intentionally acquire. Our third experiment provided further support for this conclusion. There we found that 4-5-year-olds judge that homeowners own undiscovered and unknown objects buried in their yards.

In our three final experiments, we asked situations similar to my example of the bird that drops an earring into a yard. The earring presumably had an owner before the bird took it, so we might be reluctant to say the earring belongs to the owner of the yard. To get at children’s intuitions about these kinds of situations, we told them stories in which a silly dog moves objects in people’s yards. In some cases, the dog moved objects within a yard, while other times it took objects from one yard to another. The main finding from these experiments is that children aged 4-6 years (but not those aged 3 years) do not simply judge that the objects that ended up in the man’s yard belonged to him. Instead, their responses depended on where the objects started. For example, if the dog moved an object out of the man’s yard, children still affirmed it belonged to him. And if the dog moved an object into the man’s yard, they typically denied it was his.

Together, these findings show that young children have a sophisticated understanding about the relation between who owns an object, and the territory in which it is currently. As we detail in the paper, the findings are also informative about the mechanisms that underlie children’s reasoning about ownership.

This research is joint work between Brandon W. Goulding and Ori Friedman of the University of Waterloo. It was recently published in the journal Cognition.

Reference:

Brandon W. Goulding, Ori Friedman. The development of territory-based inferences of ownership. Cognition, 2018; 177: 142 DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2018.04.013

How Do You Choose the Perfect Gift? Just Look for Something That Resembles Your SELF!

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With Christmas around the corner, we are yet again faced with the same question as every year: how do I choose the perfect gifts for my loves ones? Research might finally have an answer to that question. In an article that appeared in the Journal of Consumer Psychology in 2015, consumer researchers Gabriele Paolacci, Laura Straeter and Ilona de Hooge show that a gift recipients appreciate their gifts much more when these gifts match the giver’s characteristics.

Why? Because gifts that match the giver’s characteristics are more congruent with the giver’s identity, i.e., the giver’s self. To test this, the researchers ran a series of experiments. In one experiment, they randomly assigned participants to one of two conditions. In both conditions, they told them to imagine that their friend Robin had given them a mug with a famous Louvre paining printed on it as a graduation gift. The critical difference between the two conditions was the description of Robin. In the match condition, Robin was described as someone who is passionate about rock music and France, in particular Paris. In the no match condition, Robin was described as someone who is passionate about rock music and England, in particular London. As expected, participants appreciated the gift more when the gift matched Robin’s characteristic – when Robin was desribed as someone who loves Paris, France. In this case, they perceived the gift as more congruent with Robin’s identity.

In subsequent experiments, the researchers further discover that the effect is independent from the actual relationship between the giver and the recipient as well as inferences a recipient might make about a giver’s motivation. They do find, however, that it is important that the gift matches a giver’s core rather than some peripheral characteristic. In other words, the identity link between the gift and the giver needs to be strong.

You can read the full article [HERE].

If you are too busy right now to read the full paper (maybe because you are still looking for the perfect Christmas gift), just remember one thing: giving a tiny bit of your SELF might pay this year!

Reference

Paolacci, G., Straeter, L. M., & de Hooge, I. E. (2015). Give me your self: Gifts are liked more when they match the giver’s characteristics. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 25(3), 487-494.

How Naming Products can Induce Feelings of Ownership and Affect Subsequent Consumer Responses

Giving names to the products we love is a common thing practiced in many parts of the world. From things that we rely on on a daily basis – like bicycles and cars – to goods that make our homes a bit homier – like soft toys or plants – an abundance of items lend themselves to individualization by their owner.

Recently, companies like Toyota have started to leverage consumers’ infatuation with the name game by activley encouraging them to name their cars as part of a marketing campaign. And while the Swedish furniture giant IKEA is keeping the aspect of consumer individualization to product assembly, it has at least itself been assigning fancy names to their products for years. Who is not familiar with the Pax’s and Billy’s of this world?

But does naming products actually make a difference when it comes to consumer responses? And if so, why? In a recently published paper in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, the authors Jennifer L. Stoner (University of North Dakota), Barbara Loken (University of Minnesota) and Ashley Stadler Blank (University of St. Thomas) explore this question. Across three experiments, they show that when consumers name their products, their evaluations of those products increase. Additionally, they find that this increase in product evaluation stems from a boost in psychological ownership consumers experience from naming. This boost in psychological ownership, is, in turn, driven by name fit and creativity – two aspects that are highly subjective and thus only of real magnitude when names are self-chosen as opposed to assigned.

Overall, their very interesting results open up a new substantive line of inquiry into the effects of naming products. More details about the research can be found by clicking [HERE].

Reference

Stoner, J. L., Loken, B. and Stadler Blank, A. (2018), The Name Game: How Naming Products Increases Psychological Ownership and Subsequent Consumer Evaluations. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 28: 130-137.