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I Own, so I Help Out: How Psychological Ownership Increases Prosocial Behavior, Journal of Consumer Research

Abstract

Ownership is prevalent in everyday life. This research examines the consequences of psychological ownership on cognitions and behaviors from a novel perspective that goes beyond the behaviors directed toward the owned entity. Specifically, we show that psychological ownership increases prosocial behavior and that self-esteem explains this relationship. In our studies, ownership leads to a boost in self-esteem, which encourages individuals to be more helpful. Additionally, we show that the effect of ownership on prosocial behavior is not driven by self-efficacy, perceived power, reciprocity, feeling well-off, or affect. Moreover, we examined materialism and mine-me sensitivity as individual differences moderating the effect of ownership on prosocial behavior, showing that our proposed effect did not hold for individuals low on materialism or low on mine-me sensitivity. Finally, we attenuated the effect of ownership on prosocial tendencies by making the negative attributes of one’s possessions relevant. Together, our studies show that when people experience psychological ownership, its consequences can go beyond the specific relationship with the possession to guide behavior in unrelated situations.

Type

Article

Author(s)

Ata Jami, Maryam Kouchaki, Francesca Gino

Date Published

2020

Citations

Jami, Ata, Maryam Kouchaki, and Francesca Gino. 2020. I Own, so I Help Out: How Psychological Ownership Increases Prosocial Behavior. Journal of Consumer Research.

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