“Where do you see the role of possession, ownership and property in societal issues?” – Bernadette Kamleitner in conversation with Russell Belk

Sometimes we give away the things we love – the things we treasure the most and that define who we are. How do people cope with this loss when they move to another city, lose their goods due to a natural disaster or simply exchange all their physical goods, like a CD, with digital ones?

As part of the opening of the POP Library at the WU Vienna, Bernadette Kamleitner spoke with Russell Belk about the science of ownership. They discuss the role of ownership in society and people’s reaction to losing their most valuable possessions. Find out more about the science of ownership in the video below.

Why is the topic of ownership worth studying?

The concepts of possession, ownership and property play a fundamental role for human behaviour, social interactions and economic transactions. There are numerous resources from various disciplines dealing with exciting and surprising findings on ownership, which are now bundled and curated in the new special POP collection.

To get a first impression of the physical side of the POP (Possession, Ownership & Property) collection and to find out why world-leading experts (Floyd Rudmin, Russ Belk, Ori Friedman, Michael Heller, Jennifer Inauen, Carey Morewedge, Joann Peck, Jon Pierce, and Federico Rossano) think that ownership is an interesting topic to study and what research finding on the issue surprised them the most watch this video.

We present: The POP collection

We are happy to announce the opening of the POP (Possession, Ownership & Property) collection at WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business), which was initiated and curated by the Institute for Marketing & Consumer Research (m.core).

The POP collection is an evolving collection. It builds on a donation of an abundance of multi-disciplinary titles by Professor Floyd Rudmin (University of Tromsø), a prominent pioneer in the field.

Thank you, Floyd!

The printed books can be found in the WU Library. The digital collection contains bibliographical information on these books as well as numerous other important contributions in this field.

Search the digital collection according to your interests: HERE you find the link to the Possession, Ownership, Property Collection – Vienna University of Economics and Business.

New update? Maybe later! Procrastinating in adopting digital product updates

Consumers who own digital products, such as mobile apps or software, are frequently offered updates to integrate new features. Although delaying an update may lead to non-optimized performance and privacy or security risks, users often hesitate to install available updates. In their current research, Yazhen Xiao (University of Tennesse) and Jelena Spanjol (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München) introduce the concept of adoption procrastination and examine why consumers delay adopting what appear to be improvements to already used digital products. The authors take a closer look at the relationship between perceived change, annoyance, anticipated inaction regret and adoption procrastination, as well as the role of perceived benefit and psychological ownership of the digital product. The empirical studies show that users are more likely to be annoyed with an app update that makes a major change to the app and, hence, procrastinate about adoption. As psychological ownership is related to users’ desire to control the product’s status quo, users are more annoyed with changes introduced with an update. These findings are particularly relevant as a longer gap between adoption intention and implementation can slow down market acceptance and in turn negatively influences the product’s success. In order to reduce user procrastination, it is necessary to understand that consumers are often psychologically bonded with digital products. As a result, Xiao and Spanjol recommend that digital product marketers need to reduce users’ sense of loss that accompanies adopting a new digital product version.

You can read more about this research here.

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.

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.

Psychological ownership and prosocial behavior

Research on the consequences of psychological ownership has mostly focused on its effects on the relationship with a specific target of ownership. But could it be that psychological ownership also has carry-over effects on domains unrelated to the specific target of ownership? A new research by Ata Jami (Northwestern University), Maryam Kouchaki (Northwestern University), and Francesca Gino (Harvard University) examines this question. Specifically, the authors propose that psychological ownership increases prosocial behavior behavior because it boosts people’s self-esteem and therefore makes them more willing to help out. They also identify materialism and mine-me sensitivity as moderators of this effect. This research suggests that psychological ownership besides having profound implications on our relationships with possessions can also affect behavior in unrelated domains, such as altruistic behavior.

You can read more about this research here.

Smell and psychological ownership

A recent research reveals a novel antecedent of psychological ownership: smell. Ruta Ruzeviciute (University of Amsterdam), Bernadette Kamleitner (WU Vienna University of Economics and Business) and Dipayan Biswas (University of South Florida) examined the effect of scented advertising on product appeal. They found that scented as opposed to non-scented advertising increases product appeal. Interestingly, the authors found that the mechanism accounting for this effect is a sense of proximity induced by scent, which in turn increases psychological ownership. In other words, when people smell a scented (vs. non-scented) ad, they like the advertised product more because they experience it as being closer to them and more ‘theirs’. These findings add to the literature on proximity as an antecedent of psychological ownership implying that it is not only through direct contact and touch that people can experience psychological ownership, as prior research has shown; smell can also induce psychological ownership through its ability to represent the essence of an object that is not physically present.

You can read more about this research here.

Does object valence moderate the self-ownership effect?

The self-ownership effect is well-documented in the literature: Objects that are owned by the self are categorized faster than objects owned by others. This effect has been repeatedly shown indicating that the self is a very powerful category that influences memory and information processing. However, not much is known about boundary conditions of this effect and more specifically if valence of the objects plays a role. Prior research has mostly used abstract geometric shapes. But what about objects that differ in their desirability? Does the self-ownership effect hold for all self-owned objects or only for those with positive valence? This is the question that Marius Golubickis (University of Aberdeen, UK; University of Toronto, Canada), Nerissa S. P. Ho (University of York, UK), Johanna K. Falbén (University of Aberdeen), Carlotta L. Schwertel (University of Aberdeen), Alessia Maiuri (University of Aberdeen), Dagmara Dublas (University of Aberdeen), William A. Cunningham (University of Toronto, Canada), and C. Neil Macrae (University of Aberdeen) addressed in their research. Their results show that object desirability does play a role and that the effect of ownership is moderated by pre-existing object properties. That is, the effect holds only when desirable (vs. undesirable) objects are owned by the self and is reversed for objects owned by others. These findings offer new insights into the self-ownership effect and the moderating role of valence.

You can read more about this research here.

“Inclusion by Division” – A short film exploring the interplay between boundaries and ownership

In these hard times, films have become loyal companions in many people’s lives, which have been radically altered by social distancing. Our blog is taking this opportunity to present today a short film that explores the interplay between boundaries and ownership. The film is inspired by scenes from everyday life that all of us have repeatedly experienced: For example, arriving at a doctor’s office and having to wait for some time. How do you decide where to sit? Or how do you decide whether to sit or stand in the first place?

Situations like this and the ensuing questions about the usage of shared space inspired the research behind the film “Inclusion by Division: When Boundaries Turn No Man’s Land into Some Man’s Land” by Renato Regis, Bernadette Kamleitner, Monika Koller (WU Vienna) and Carina Thürridl (University of Amsterdam). By means of interviews and a small scale experiment, the researchers shed light on how people use and create visual boundaries in space to demark their territory in social occasions. The film was presented at the film festival of ACR (Association for Consumer Research) 2019 conference in Atlanta.

This work proposes that visual boundaries facilitate the (temporary) appropriation and ownership of restricted spaces, helping people within them to protect their (temporarily owned) space and people outside to identify and reduce empty spaces. Seemingly, the simple addition of small boundaries in the environment can allow for inclusion and curb space-consuming by reducing territorial behaviors.

You can watch the 10-minute film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ex7TzfcGSTI

Stay home and enjoy!