Prior research on the mere ownership effect demonstrated how mere ownership of an object could affect one's evaluation of an object per se, such as judging an owned object more favorably than an unowned object. Recent research found that mere ownership could also affect one's evaluation of domain specific self-efficacy, such as perceiving the self as having greater efficacy when experiencing mere ownership (vs. without-ownership) of an object. Three studies were conducted to examine the boundary conditions of this efficacy-based mere ownership effect. We propose that the self-enhancing tendency via mere ownership is not simply a positivity effect to restore positive valence in the self-concept, but is contingent on how important the owned object's functional attribute is to the self, especially when the self-concept is threatened. We demonstrated that efficacy-based mere ownership effect occurred only when the self-concept was threatened (vs. not threatened) (Study 1), and when the attributes of the owned object was central (vs. not central) to the idiosyncratic self-concept (Study 2), or culturally-derived self-concept (Study 3). The implications of and future research direction on efficacy-based mere ownership effect are discussed.
The research was supported by the Direct Grant (DR12C2) and the Department fund from Lingnan University and the Fulbright Supplemental Research Grant given to the first author. There is no conflict of interest. We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their careful and insightful review of the earlier draft of the manuscript.
- Mere ownership