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Advances in Consumer Research (Volume 36) / 995
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Mental Ownership as Important Imagery Content
Silvia Feuchtl, University of Vienna, Austria
Bernadette Kamleitner, Queen Mary, University of London, UK
Previous research has shown that mental imagery influences consumer experiences. Most research on mental imagery has focused
on imagery vividness. What people actually imagine has hardly been assessed. We propose mental ownership as a powerful imagery
content. An online experiment supports this proposition. Path models show that mental ownership partially mediates the effect of imagery
vividness on attachment and attitudes, which in turn influence behaviour. In particular, mental ownership strongly predicts attachment,
which significantly increases intentions towards getting the mere-mentally owned product.
Phrases such as Yes, I can see myself driving that car indicate that mental imagery is present in consumers everyday language,
and it seems that consumers use their imagination to decide on what to buy. Indeed, marketing scholars and practitioners are well aware
of the importance of mental imagery for consumer behaviour (e.g., MacInnis & Price, 1987; Phillips, 1996; Schroeder, 2005).
Several studies have shown that the more vivid and strong mental imagery, the more attitudes towards an ad or a product improve
(e.g., Babin & Burns, 1998; Gregory, Cialdini, & Carpenter, 1982). Interestingly, whereas we know quite well that vividness matters, we
know much less about what people actually imagine. This paper aims at contributing to our understanding of the importance of imagery
content by proposing mental ownership as a particularly powerful imagery content
There are at least three criteria that a powerful and marketing-relevant imagery content needs to meet. Ownership meets them all:
First, consumers must be able to experience or feel what they imagine. People are able to develop a sense of ownership (e.g., Heyman,
Orhun, & Ariely, 2004; Pierce, Kostova, & Dirks, 2003), and experiences of psychological ownership are clearly not restricted to factual
possessions (e.g., De Dreu & van Knippenberg, 2005; F. W. Rudmin, 1994).
Second, a powerful imagery content needs to be something that frequently preoccupies consumers and is hence able to come to ones
mind spontaneously or naturally. Ownership considerations and consequences clearly impact everyday life and differentiating between
mine and not mine is a routine practice in most cultures.
Third and in order to be relevant for marketing, a powerful imagery content must be able to influence how consumers feel and behave
towards an object. As indicated by several theoretical streams rooted in economics (endowment effect; e.g., Thaler, 1980) and psychology
(mere-ownership effect and attachment; e.g., Beggan, 1992) ownership has the capacity to significantly influence how consumers feel
about and behave towards an owned object.
To deal with the specific case of a sense of ownership in situations where there is no actual ownership we coin the term mental
ownership. Mental ownership is defined as a sense of ownership for a factually not owned product. The phrase a sense of ownership
denotes that mental ownership is more than merely imagining a situation of possession. It requires a shift in the person-product relation
(or reference point), thus, that not getting a mentally owned product feels like a loss instead of a non-gain.
Our research model proposes that vivid mental imagery about an object can lead to mental ownership which, in turn, leads to the
typical consequences of actual ownership: an increase in attachment and attitudes. Subsequently, attachment and attitudes are supposed
to influence behavioural intentions and behaviours aiming at making the mere mentally owned object actually available to the imaginer.
To test the research model, 613 participants were presented with the information that either a new coffeemaker or a new car was being
introduced to the market. Participants were then shown depictions of the same product in three different colours in an online experiment.
To manipulate the degree of mental ownership, participants either had to actively choose a model in a particular colour (experimental
group, EG), or they were simply informed that the product was available in three different colours (control group, CG). The rationale
behind this manipulation was that the act of choosing can create an ownership like association between the chooser and the chosen object
(Gawronski, Bodenhausen, & Becker, 2007). After being informed of the different colour options participants were presented an ad for
the (chosen) product. Subsequently, participants were asked to fill in a questionnaire assessing reactions to the ad (imagery vividness,
mental ownership, attachment, attitudes, and behavioral intentions) and demographic characteristics. Overall, a 2 (choice EG vs. no-
choice CG) x 2 (car vs. coffeemaker) experimental design was achieved.
The manipulation of mental ownership was successful and it was not due to an effect of the manipulation on mental imagery. To test
the proposed research model we ran several path models in AMOS. First, we assessed a model without mere-mental ownership. In this
model we restrained all paths leading to and from mental ownership to 0. None of the fit-indices reached the required levels. Second and
to test the proposed mediating function of mere-mental ownership, we assessed a model with mere-mental ownership as a mediator, which
led to satisfying levels of model fit. Overall there is support for the partial mediation proposed in the research model. Mere-mental
ownership decreases the influence of imagery vividness on attachment and attitudes and it significantly predicts product attachment and
attitudes. These main results hold for both products even when the paths are constrained across groups.
In addition and in contrast to most previous research we show that neither mental imagery nor mental ownership directly influence
behaviour. In particular, attachment seems to predict behavioural intentions. This finding fits into a growing stream of research which
indicates that attachments rather than attitudes are important indicators of behaviour (e.g., Park, MacInnis, & Priester, 2006; Thomson,
MacInnis, & Park, 2005). Interestingly, the importance of attachment also underlines the importance of mere-mental ownership. Our
results show that mere-mental ownership has considerably more impact on attachment than on attitudes. Hence, mental ownership seems
to be indeed a powerful imagery content. Considering that peoples imagery content can probably be influenced, mental ownership, like
factual ownership, might prove to be of tremendous theoretical and practical importance in several contexts and disciplines.
Dinner Out with Independent Self-Construal Consumers: Wow, This is Bad Wine
Eugenia C. Wu, Duke University, USA
Sarah G. Moore, Duke University, USA
Gavan J. Fitzsimons, Duke University, USA
Imagine that you are asked to select a restaurant for dinner with a group of friends. Which restaurant do you choose? We usually know
what to choose for ourselves, but what happens when there are others involved? More specifically, how do you choose when you must
consider not just your own preferences but the predilections of those around you?
As consumers we are often required to choose collectively, on behalf of ourselves and others. We decide on behalf of others when
we select the restaurant for a dinner outing, pick the toppings for a shared pizza or choose the movie for a group jaunt to the theater. Despite
the frequency of such decisions, existing research has focused primarily on choices made for and by individual consumers (Bettman, Luce
and Payne 1998). Decisions in a group context have been addressed mainly in research on family decision-making (Corfman and Lehmann
1987) and in the negotiations literature in terms of collective decisions made for and by the group (Oetzel 1998). In this research, we attempt
to understand some of the factors which influence consumption choices on behalf of others.
We focus on self-construal and expertise, both factors which have a substantial impact on consumer behavior (West, Brown and Hoch
1996; Aaker and Schmidt 2001). Self-construal theory proposes that individuals differ fundamentally in how they construe the self;
independents see themselves as unique and autonomous while interdependents define themselves in the context of their social
relationships, roles and duties (Markus and Kitayama 1991). Research on expertise suggests that consumers may also differ in their levels
of knowledge concerning particular consumption decisions (Alba and Hutchinson 1987). In two studies, we examine the influence of these
factors on a common decision made on behalf of others: choice of wine for the table at a restaurant.
The wine choice situation requires individuals to balance their own preferences with those of the groupbut unlike past research
that investigates how individuals self-choices are influenced by others choices (Ariely and Levav 2000), we put individual and group
preferences in conflict by asking individuals to make a choice for the entire group and not just themselves. We expect that independents
will choose better (more expensive) wines of the type of wine they prefer (e.g., red versus white), sacrificing the groups welfare to
maximize their own utility. Interdependents should make more balanced choices and choose bottles that are equally expensive; they may
even self-sacrifice by choosing more expensive bottles of the type they prefer less.
We conducted the studies online, using a national sample of participants who self-identified as wine drinkers. Participants read that
they went out to dinner with a group of friends, and that they had been elected to choose the wine for the eveningone bottle of red and
one bottle of whiteand that they were not to exceed a total budget of $110. Individuals then viewed a real wine list and selected one red
and one white wine; we asked them to indicate the prices of the wines and to rate the quality of the two wines. We measured preferences
for red and white wine by asking how often participants drank red versus white wine and measured self-construal (Singelis 1994). In Study
2, we also asked a number of wine-related questions to ascertain individuals expertise.
As an initial illustration of our predicted effects, in Study 1, one strongly independent individual, a white-wine drinker, disregarded
our instructions and selected two bottles of white wine, ignoring the group and satisfying his own preferences (he was excluded from our
analysis). Our major dependent variables were the prices of the two bottles of wine individuals selected. We conducted a repeated measures
analysis on the prices of red and white wine, using self-construal, wine preference, and expertise as independent variables. In both studies
1 and 2, we found similar results. First, we found an interaction between self-construal and wine preference. As predicted, independents
wine choices were influenced strongly by their preferences: the more they preferred red (white) wine, the more expensive a bottle of red
(white) wine they chose. Interdependents chose more equally priced wines regardless of their preferencesin fact, they chose slightly
more expensive bottles of the wine they did not prefer.
In Study 2, we measured expertise and found a three-way interaction between self-construal, wine preference, and expertise. While
expertise did not influence the decisions of interdependents, independents wine choices were influenced by their knowledge of wine.
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... The human imagination has long fascinated scholars and practitioners alike (Escalas, 2004;Feuchtl & Kamleitner, 2009;Jenkins, Molesworth, & Eccles, 2010;Phillips, 1996;Schau, 2000;White, 1990;Zhao, Hoeffler, & Dahl, 2009). Through the years, researchers such as Schau (2000), Escalas (2004), and Zhao et al. (2009) have challenged the academic community to deepen our understanding of how the imagination works. ...
... Situating oneself with respect to a not-yet-owned product requires a transfer in point of reference from self to product and is explainable through the lens of perceived ownership, the perception of ownership and evaluation of things that do not legally belong to an individual (Peck & Shu, 2009). This heightened evaluation of the target object is based on the concept of psychological ownership (Feuchtl & Kamleitner, 2009;Pierce, Kostova, & Dirks, 2003). Peck and Shu (2009) demonstrated the relationship between asking a consumer to imagine owning and increased feelings of ownership. ...
The research proposes that the consumer imagination combines information about a current sensory stimulus (product) with triggered episodic memories to use as inputs in making product evaluations. Two studies reveal that the consumer imagination can be suppressed when preferred haptic sensory information is missing and when a situation is unambiguous, reducing the need for relying on episodic memory. The research findings support the general notion that the consumer imagination enhances purchase intentions compared to considering product attributes because the imagination enables consumers to integrate the information in a more efficient way. In both studies, perceived ownership mediates the effect. Contributions to theory and practical implications are provided.
... Growing interest has also arisen in marketing (Harmeling et al., 2017;Hulland et al., 2015;Sun et al., 2016). Here, PO has potential implications for understanding consumer behavior, including positive attitudes toward target objects (Beggan, 1992;Feuchtl and Kamleitner, 2009;Sun et al., 2016). Identified outcomes include customer satisfaction, relational intentions, competitive resistance (Asatryan and Oh, 2008;Fuchs et al., 2010), product consideration (Kamleitner and Feuchtl, 2015), and product acquisition (Kamleitner, 2011). ...
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Purpose People are responsible for their wellbeing, yet whether they take ownership of their own or even others' wellbeing might vary from actor to actor. Such psychological ownership (PO) influences the dynamics of how wellbeing is co-created, particularly amongst actors, and ultimately determines actors' subjective wellbeing. The paper's research objective pertains to explicating the concept of the co-creation of wellbeing and conceptualizing the dynamics inherent to the co-creation of wellbeing with consideration of the influences of all involved actors from a PO perspective. Design/methodology/approach To provide a new conceptualization and framework for the dynamics of wellbeing co-creation, this research synthesizes wellbeing, PO and value co-creation literature. Four healthcare cases serve to illustrate the effects of engaged actors' PO on the co-creation of wellbeing. Findings The derived conceptual framework of dynamic co-creation of wellbeing suggests four main propositions: (1) the focal actor's wellbeing state is the intangible target of the focal actor's and other engaged actors' PO, transformed throughout the process of wellbeing co-creation, (2) PO over the focal actor's wellbeing state is subject to the three interrelated routes of exercising control, investing in the target, and intimately knowing the target, which determine the instigation of wellbeing co-creation, (3) the level of PO over the focal actor's wellbeing state can vary, influence and be influenced by the extent of wellbeing co-creation, (4) the co-creation of wellbeing, evoked by PO, is founded on resource integration, which influences the resources–challenges equilibrium of focal actor and of all other engaged actors, affecting individual subjective wellbeing. Originality/value This article provides a novel conceptual framework that can shed new light on the co-creation of wellbeing in service research. Through the introduction of PO the transformation of lives and wellbeing can be better understood.
... Perceived ownership has been shown to positively impact the attitudes towards objects (Balaji et al. 2011;Feuchtl and Kamleitner 2009;Gineikiene et al. 2017). In addition, in the same way that consumers that legally own an object value it higher, also perceived ownership has been demonstrated to be positively related to the value one attaches to an object (Peck and Shu 2009). ...
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The rise of augmented reality (AR) technology presents e-retailers with new opportunities. According to previous research, it is a technology that can positively affect engagement, brand recall and purchase confidence. Mobile-enabled augmented reality differs from regular mobile phone use as the technology virtually overlays images or information to the real environment. As the use of a touch screen device (i.e. smartphone vs. laptop) has previously been found to positively affect feelings of perceived ownership, the current study examines whether the possibility to virtually manipulate a product on a mobile AR application would have an even stronger effect. This is examined for products with either material properties (i.e. products that require the examination of sensory information) or geometric properties (i.e. products that can be examined via written and/or visual information). The findings reveal that AR does indeed result in higher levels of perceived ownership, particularly in case of material products.
... Psychological ownership has many implications for consumer behavior, for example, it promotes attachment and favorable attitudes towards objects (Beggan, 1992;Feuchtl & Kamleitner, 2009); people get emotionally attached to their possessions (Frost & Hartl, 1996) and consider items they own to be more attractive even when they had no role in choosing them (Beggan, 1992). Moreover, the psychological ownership literature shows that psychological ownership of a product is associated with a more favorable product judgment (e.g., Fuchs, Prandelli, & Schreier, 2010;Jussila et al., 2015); product acquisition (Kamleitner, 2011), and behavioral responses (product consideration) (Kamleitner & Feuchtl, 2015). ...
This paper seeks to understand the role of psychological ownership in shaping perceptions and preferences of domestic versus foreign products. We provide evidence that quality judgments and purchase behavior of domestic products depend on different levels of shared ownership. From a theoretical perspective, we show that domestic psychological ownership is an important construct that explains how preferences for domestic brands are formed. In terms of methodological contribution, the study offers a psychometric measure that will assist researchers interested in international consumer research. Finally, the study is of managerial interest in that our findings provide at least a partial explanation why many foreign brands fail to establish stronger positions in domestic markets, as well as why hybridization and glocalization strategies are successful.
... personal thank you by the initiator) as a way to turn consumers into investors (Gerber, Hui, and Kuo 2012;Ordanini et al. 2011). This form of appreciation generates a "we're all in this together"-mentality among supporters and may make them feel as though the project is also "theirs", i.e. elicit psychological ownership (PO), which is a powerful concept that has been associated with a number of desirable consumerrelated outcomes (Feuchtl and Kamleitner 2009;Fuchs, Prandelli, and Schreier 2010;Peck and Shu 2009;Pierce, Kostova, and Dirks 2003). While it seems intuitive to use recognition as a strategy to increase PO and encourage positive crowdfunding behavior, evidence in the field of charitable giving implies otherwise (Winterich, Mittal, and Aquino 2013;Wymer and Samu 2002). ...
Conference Paper
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We investigate the psychological effects of recognition in crowdfunding. Across three studies we show that in particular public recognition increases psychological ownership, which subsequently elicits approach behavior. Moreover, we uncover conditions under which recognition is most effective as a strategy in crowdfunding.
... According to Desmet The affective response while fantasizing can be positive or negative. Car-affine people for example imaging sitting in a " Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano " feel pleasure while thinking of driving a nice curvy road with great panorama (Berger and Ehrsson 2014; Feuchtl and Kamleitner 2009). On the contrary, people, or to put it in another way, men or women can experience frustration or anxiety thinking of coming home to the marriage partner. ...
Over the past 20 years, visual product aesthetics (VPA) has received increased attention in the marketing literature. However, marketing literature still lacks an in-depth review that reduces, structures and categorizes existing literature. This master thesis therefore, discusses consumer response to VPA within the scope of a summarizing review on the basis of the literature. This work shows research priorities and provides implications that refer to the summarized findings. Most research on VPA centers on business-to-consumer (B2C) markets and neglects business-to-business (B2B) contexts. Furthermore, there is a lack of field research since marketing academics predominantly examine VPA in laboratory settings. Additionally, expressions and terms are used interchangeably across marketing literature and other disciplines. Hence, there is a need for a more general labeling. This work is limited by the visual dimension of product aesthetics and by subjective search strategies. This thesis shows the current status quo in marketing literature pertaining VPA, provides research gaps and research priorities for further empirical and theoretical research. Keywords Visual Product Aesthetics, Consumer Response, Marketing, Consumer Behavior, Design
... In consumer behaviour, however, it is a relatively new concept. Recent findings offered by Feuchtl and Kamleitner (2009) demonstrate this type of ownership promotes attachment and favourable attitudes towards objects. In a social marketing context, psychological ownership typically is felt following the completion of ownership activities – behaviours that contribute to an organisation's or cause's being, essence or success. ...
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The authors assessed psychological ownership as a potential persuasive advertising message appeal in social marketing efforts. Psychological ownership is a feeling of possession; it occurs when individuals feel that something is theirs even though they cannot hold legal title to it. Interestingly, the first study indicated advertising messages that generate psychological ownership yielded less favourable attitudes, word of mouth and willingness to pay price premiums among women. Women responded more negatively to messages that attempted to induce psychological ownership than to neutral messages. The adverse responses of women prompted the second study, in which both the psychological ownership message and cognitive capacity were manipulated. Results indicate that, in a limited cognitive capacity condition, women responded similarly towards higher psychological ownership and neutral advertising messages. Further, these effects were mediated by inferences of manipulative intent and not feelings of guilt. Theoretical and managerial implications are offered for marketers attempting to use psychological ownership as an advertising message strategy and gender as a segmentation strategy.
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Purpose: It is very important for companies to maintain long-term relationship with their customers. This study focused on the psychological ownership of customers to improve and make strong relationship with the company. This study aimed to find out the main antecedents that form psychological ownership. It also conceptually examine whether psychological ownership affects the intention to sustain long-term relationship with companies.Methodology: This study will conduct a comparative study between the US and Korea by surveying customers using hotels and department stores. The results of survey will be analyzed by structural equation model using AMOS program.Findings: Through previous studies and inferences, we extracted customer participation, customer experience, and customer-company identification as the main antecedents influencing psychological ownership in the customer-company relationship. Discussion: If it is verified that psychological ownership has a significant impact on long-term relationship, marketing practices could be suggested that can maximize the psychological ownership of customers by analyzing three factors of customer participation and four types of customer experience.
In the age of big data where vast amounts of data are collected, stored, and analyzed from all possible sources, the growth of social media and the culture of sharing personal information have created privacy and security related issues. Drawing on the prospect theory and rational apathy theory, we present a research model to investigate why people disclose personal information on Online Social Networks. This paper analyzes the impact of situational factors such as information control, ownership of personal information, and apathy towards privacy concern of users on Online Social Network. We describe the proposed research design for collecting our data and analysis using structural equation modeling to analyze the data. The findings and conclusions will be presented after the data is analyzed. This work contributes to the network analytics by developing new constructs using the Prospect Theory and the Rational Apathy theory from the fields of behavioral economics and social psychology respectively.
In a crisis communication context, this work examines the impact of Psychological Ownership (PO) appeals on Ad message recipients’ development of feelings of PO. It demonstrates that increased levels of PO influence the managerially relevant outcomes attitude toward the company and purchase intentions. In doing so, it finds new application for the construct. In order to better understand the factors that may contribute to or mitigate PO, this research also investigates environmental consciousness as an additional antecedent and gender, persuasion knowledge, and geographic distance as moderators of individuals’ response to such appeals. Managerial and theoretical implications are discussed.
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