Track 6: Attitudes & Persuasion
Uzma Khan (University of Miami)

6D. Psychological Ownership

Saturday, March 5
3:45pm – 5:15pm EST
Discussant: Carey Morewedge (Boston University)
MC: Andrea Luangrath (University of Iowa)
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Student Coordinator: Rin Yoon (Cornell University) (

Competitive Papers

This is My Space: The Role of Psychological Ownership in Driving the Negative Impact of Advertisements on Social Media Platform Evaluation
Authors: Sonia Kim (Columbia University, Columbia Business School), Gita Johar (Columbia University, Columbia Business School)
Presenting Author: Sonia Kim (Columbia University, Columbia Business School)
Why are consumers particularly aversive towards ads on social media? The current research reveals that the presence of close others creates the feeling that the newsfeed on social media is “my” space (i.e., psychological ownership). Thus, ads feel like an intrusion into one’s space leading to negative platform evaluation. This feeling of ownership is not as high when platforms are used to interact with acquaintances rather than close friends, and hence ads do not hurt platforms used for acquaintances to the same extent. We offer three specific ways to overcome the negative effects based on our theorizing.
The Consequences of Ownership Expression in the Marketing Context
Authors: Myojoong Kim (Virginia Tech), Juncai Jiang (Virginia Tech), Mario Pandelaere (Virginia Tech)
Presenting Author: Myojoong Kim (Virginia Tech)
Although ownership expression is prevalent, little work has examined the consequences of ownership expression in consumer behavior research (Peck and Shu 2018). To fill this gap, this research investigates the consequences of others’ ownership expression in the marketing context. Across four studies, including two field studies and two controlled lab experiments, we show that ownership expression (e.g., "my," "mine") can have detrimental effects because ownership expression induces consumers to perceive barriers to ownership. Specifically, we find that ownership expression reduces the likelihood of remixing projects, product evaluation, and willingness to pay. However, when consumers are making decisions to rent, the detrimental effect of ownership expression disappear.
The Psychological Ownership Over Ideas
Authors: Sonia Kim (Columbia University, Columbia Business School), Melanie Brucks (Columbia University, Columbia Business School)
Presenting Author: Melanie Brucks (Columbia University, Columbia Business School)
Do consumers feel equal ownership over different ideas they have generated, and, if not, what determines feelings of “idea-ownership”? While much work has focused on psychological ownership over tangible objects or physical spaces, less work has examined the drivers for feeling ownership over nonphysical entities, such as ideas. In this research, we find that consumers vary substantially in feelings of ownership within a generated idea set. Then, through content analyses and experiments, we identify four antecedents to the experience of idea-ownership (personal relevance, perceived distinction from existing ideas, fluency and effort during generation), along with downstream consequences unique to idea-ownership.
It Looks Like Mine: Examining Extended Psychological Ownership in Consumer Possessions
Authors: Yunzhijun Yu (Simon Fraser University), Brent McFerran (Simon Fraser University)
Presenting Author: Yunzhijun Yu (Simon Fraser University)
Psychological ownership is a cognitive and an affective state where individuals feel that an object belongs to them. While legal entitlements induce psychological ownership, individuals can also experience PO toward other objects that they do not actually own. Across six studies, we show a novel antecedent to PO: that individuals can “extend” their psychological ownership towards other unowned objects that merely share a high degree of physical similarity with objects that they already own. Further, the feeling of ownership consequently may lead them to (a) ascribe higher values to these similar-looking objects and (b) act territorial towards them.

Flash Talks

You Belong to Me: Effects of Romantic Fantasy on Interpersonal Psychological Ownership and Consumption Behavior in Celebrity Culture
Authors: Yunzhijun Yu (Simon Fraser University), Lily Lin (Simon Fraser University)
Presenting Author: Lily Lin (Simon Fraser University)
This research shows that consumer-generated fantasies can lead individuals to develop feelings of interpersonal psychological ownership toward human entities (i.e., fantasy targets) and exhibit stronger consumption behaviors related to these human entities. Across four studies, we demonstrate that consumers who romantically fantasize about celebrities have stronger desires to consume products and activities associated with these individuals because of heightened feelings of ownership, which are induced through enhanced perceived knowledge, investment, and control. The positive effects of fantasy on consumption behaviors are mitigated when the celebrities are romantically unavailable. Individuals’ proneness to fantasize also plays a key role in this process.
Unused Possessions and Subsequent Spending
Authors: Shruti Koley (Portland State University)
Presenting Author: Shruti Koley (Portland State University)
Consumers often buy products that they later fail to use. How does failing to use one's products affect how much money they subsequently spend on new purchases? Three experiments demonstrate that being unable to use their products decreases consumers' subsequent spending. We find that this occurs irrespective of whether consumers discard, donate or retain their unused products, but only when they blame themselves for wasting their products and thus wasting money. Furthermore, unlike failing to use one's product, wasting an equivalent amount of money by overspending to acquire a product doesn't reduce consumers' subsequent spending if they got enough use out of it during its lifetime.


Ambiguous Ownership: How identity signals influence preferences for renting vs. buying
Authors: Tyler MacDonald (Questrom School of Business, Boston University), Remi Trudel (Boston University), Carey Morewedge (Boston University)
Presenting Author: Tyler MacDonald (Questrom School of Business, Boston University)
Consumers often prefer to own products that affirm their identities (Belk 1988; Berger and Heath 2007). However due to technological advancements, consumption is evolving, replacing legal ownership of private goods with legal access to shared goods. This presents a serious threat to the benefits conferred by psychological ownership (Morewedge, et al. 2020). In this research, we examine an upside to ambiguous ownership. In 3 studies, we demonstrate that consumers can avoid negative self-signals by making purchases that confer lower levels of psychological ownership. By doing so, consumers can preserve their identity while extracting attractive benefits from otherwise “off-limits” products.
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