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Title: What determines the value of possessions? : empirical tests of the self-extension theory of ownership
Author: Walasek, Lukasz
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2013
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Owners tend to overvalue possessions relative to non-owners: a phenomenon known as the endowment effect. Over the years, many theories have been put forward in order to account for this robust disparity between owners' willingness to accept (WT A) and non-owners' willingness to pay (WTP). One possible explanation of the endowment effect is that owners develop feelings of ownership towards their possession, growing emotionally attached to what they own. A potential unifying theoretical framework that can explain this relation is the self-extension model of psychological ownership formulated by Russell Belk (1988). Accordingly, objects are incorporated into one's self-definition in order to fulfill the basic psychological needs of having a coherent and continuous sense of identity, sense of belonging as well as feelings of efficacy and effectance. The processes by which objects are incorporated into our self include: object appropriation (touch and use), getting to know one's possession (familiarity and knowledge) and active investment of the self in the object (creation). All of these premises were tested experimentally across 9 studies, presented in Manuscripts 1, 2 and 3. Overall, modest evidence was accumulated in favor of the proposition that feelings of ownership develop in order to satisfy psychological needs outlined by the self-extension model. Also moderate support was found to suggest that touch, use and knowledge influence subjective valuations of owners and non-owners. Only the implications of object creation were in line with the predictions of the self-extension framework. In manuscript 4, two different explanations for the endowment effects for risky assets were investigated: misperception of probability and value-uncertainty. Results were inconsistent with the former but supported the latter, showing that even if the representation of an asset is the same between owners and non-owners, higher uncertainty about its value increases the magnitude of the endowment effect.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available