Seeing Oneself as an Owner Increases Prosocial Behaviors

This article explores the consequences of psychological ownership going beyond the specific relationship with the possession to guide behavior in unrelated situations. Across seven studies, we find that psychological ownership leads to a boost in self-esteem, which encourages individuals to be more altruistic. In addition, we show that the effect of psychological ownership on prosocial behavior is not driven by self-efficacy, perceived power, reciprocity, feeling well-off, or affect. Examining materialism and mine-me sensitivity as individual differences moderating the effect of psychological ownership on prosocial behavior, we find that the effect does not hold for individuals low on materialism or mine-me sensitivity. Finally, we attenuate the effect of psychological ownership on prosocial tendencies by making the negative attributes of one’s possessions relevant.

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Ata Jami, Maryam Kouchaki, Francesca Gino, I Own, So I Help Out: How Psychological Ownership Increases Prosocial Behavior, Journal of Consumer Research, , ucaa040, https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucaa040.

Stacy Wood

Stacy is the Langdon Distinguished University Professor of Marketing at NC State University and a member of the JCR editorial team.

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