Why are we so attached to our things? - Christian Jarrett - Deepstash

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The endowment effect

The endowment effect

The endowment effect is when we value items more highly from the moment we own them.

In a demonstration, students were given a choice between a coffee mug or a Swiss chocolate bar for participating in research. Half chose the coffee mug and the other half the chocolate. Then they were both given a chance to swop.  Most preferred the reward they started out with.

This shows how quickly we form connections between our sense of self and the things we consider ours.


128 reads

Attachment to family heirlooms

In an experiment, psychologists used an illusion to convince young children they built a copying machine that could replicate anything, such as their favourite toy. Most of the children favoured their original toy and many were horrified with the idea of taking home a copy.

This thinking about objects stays with us into adulthood. Many of us are reluctant to part with family heirlooms which help us feel connected to loved ones.



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Culture plays a part in feelings of ownership

Hazda people of northern Tanzania are isolated from modern culture and don't show the endowment effect.

That is possible because they live in an egalitarian society where they share almost everything.


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Attachment to things can go too far

Attachment to things can go too far

Sometimes people have a hoarding disorder  - that is, an exaggerated sense of responsibility and protectiveness toward one's belongings.

However, it remains to be seen how the nature of our relationship with our possessions will change with digital technologies. 


71 reads



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