The Price of Ownership: An Evaluation of Digital and Tangible Items

Level of Education of Students Involved


Faculty Sponsor

Abbie Thompson


Arts and Sciences



Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 4-27-2023


In this study, we investigate the perceived nature of digital and physical goods. Digital goods have increased in number as technological advances continue to interact with consumerism. Because of this, digital and physical goods have been set up as rivals in the market, and understanding their relationship with psychological ownership seemed a perfect next step in data collection. We hypothesized that if a good has a higher perceived capacity for psychological ownership, then it will be valued at a higher rate than goods that have a low perceived capacity for psychological ownership. Participants (N = 16) were students enrolled in a research methods in psychology course. Through a survey, participants indicated how much they would pay for a given item, either digital or physical, and how much psychological ownership they felt for each good. We found that digital goods are valued less than physical goods and have a lesser sense of psychological ownership. The results we have found have large implications for how our preferences lie when it comes to physical and digital possessions. By using the data we found in this study, we have determined that people still prefer physical items even when living in a digital era.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

These authors came together to study psychological ownership and it's meaning in the digital world out of their shared interest in psychology. As the world becomes more and more digital, so do our consumer trends, and this completely changes the game. Ethan, Rachael, and Cristian all share a passion for investigating this shift and what it means moving forward for psychologists and economists alike.

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