Why Do We Love to Hoard?

BBC Future has an excellent piece on the perplexing psychology of hoarding. This is a hot topic in pop media right now, but BBC Future delves into hoarding at a level reality shows can't touch. From the piece:

Question: How do you make something instantly twice as expensive?

Answer: By giving it away.

This might sound like a nonsensical riddle, but if you’ve ever felt overly possessive about your regular parking space, your pen, or your Star Wars box sets, then you’re experiencing some elements behind the psychology of ownership. Our brains tell us that we value something merely because it is a thing we have.

This riddle actually describes a phenomenon called the Endowment Effect. The parking space, the pen and the DVDs are probably the same as many others, but they’re special to you. Special because in some way they are yours.

You can see how the endowment effect escalates – how else can you explain the boxes of cassette tapes, shoes or mobile phones that fill several shelves of your room… or even several rooms?

Read the entire piece at BBC Future (covered by Mind Hacks).


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Posted on July 26, 2012 .