It’s junk. But, it’s MY junk.

moving boxes with junk in it, symbolizing my post's topic of ownership effect

The ownership effect is a powerful cognitive bias that impacts personal life and beyond. But, we are all entitled to "let it  go" a little! Join me in self-reflecting, educating, interpreting and applying this theory.


What is the one object in your house (i.e. closet, garage, etc.) that you hang onto and avoid parting with at all costs? Now ask yourself:  Under what conditions do I truly need it? If not mine, how much would I be willing to pay for it? Is my life better as a result of owning this? What is the total cost of owning this?  Would my life change if I sold/gave this away? *


That objective reflection should help you begin to understand that getting rid of junk could actually be a gain rather than a loss. This is one of the main principles of the ownership effect (also known as loss aversion or the endowment effect), which occurs when the possession of a particular item - regardless of sentimental value - changes how we view it.   Outcomes includes either valuing it more highly than its worth and/or overestimating the pain of letting it go.


Study after study done by psychologists have proven this point; a fact to which marketers are aware and often take advantage, allowing us to find applications of the ownership effect everywhere; to name a few:   fitting rooms, sample boxes (i.e. Goodies), test driving a car, trial stays in timeshares, 30 day money-back guarantees, virtual ownerships (i.e Craigslist/Ebay), etc. Do other ownership traps come to mind that you have noticed or even fallen victim?


The best way to combat this cognitive bias is through practice.  So, today I identified 13 cookbooks that didn’t pass the test in paragraph numero uno … and courtesy of the hit song from Frozen’s musical soundtrack, cue “Let It Go” because I just dropped those suckers off at Goodwill and moved on with my life.  Now it’s your turn to join me (both in chorus and in action) as you identify and tackle your own ownership biases! *Note - These exploratory questions are courtesy of a fellow blogger, in this original post
| Filed under $tudying | Tags:

7 thoughts on “It’s junk. But, it’s MY junk.

  1. This is really interesting, You’re an overly professional blogger.

    I’ve joined your feed and stay up for looking for more of your magnificent post.
    Also, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks

  2. Its such as you read my mind! You appear to
    understand so much about this, like you wrote the ebook
    in it or something. I think that you can do with some % to force the message home a bit, however
    other than that, this is fantastic blog. An excellent read.
    I will definitely be back.

  3. What doesn’t fall into this category in my life?! I also think lately about how the renting economy makes it possible for me to “borrow” the things I need (a bike, perhaps) when I need them and not take up space in our garage and in my head for the 99.9% of the time I don’t. But what is the cost of renting it, fiscally and time-wise? I pledge to research this, never do, and end up with and endless supply of unused things …

  4. I really try hard to ask myself “do I truly need it”? However, some items I’m just not ready to part with. A lot of it is from high school, notes, pictures, report cards. I’m borderline hoarder.

  5. Enjoyed this article as well as the referenced source article and as a new subscriber I look forward to reading more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *