The complex relationship between digitalization and psychological appropriation is the topic of a recent work by Bernadette Kamleitner and Michail Kokkoris published in the latest edition of The Routledge Handbook of Digital Consumption (edited by Rosa Llamas and Russell Belk). In their work, the authors propose that digitalization has a profound psychological impact in that it blurs numerous perceptual and conceptual boundaries. As a consequence of this “Big Blur”, people struggle to “grasp” blurred entities and concepts, because the ability to grasp the essence of things is a deep-seated human need. Therefore, digital consumers respond to diminished graspability by craving for psychological ownership. The authors review various contemporary market trends that support this proposition, such as the use of “my” claims in marketing, regionality, voluntary simplicity and minimalism. At the same time, digitalization is also used to combat this lack of graspability. Digital market offerings promise consumers to help them psychologically appropriate entities and concepts. However, what appears to be a promise of graspability in the digital world is often a mere façade (e.g., user-friendly interfaces) that cannot adequately satisfy consumers’ appropriation needs and deliver what it promises. This inevitably leads to a vicious circle, where digitalization simultaneously erodes and fuels the desire for psychological appropriation.
You can read the full chapter here.