A new study suggests that just fingering an item on a store shelf can create an attachment that makes you willing to pay more for it.
Previous studies have shown that many people begin to feel ownership of an item--that it "is theirs"--before they even buy it. But this study, conducted by researchers at Ohio State University, is the first to show "mine, mine, mine" feelings can begin in as little as 30 seconds after first touching an object.
Participants in the study were shown an inexpensive coffee mug, and were allowed to hold it either for 10 seconds or 30 seconds. They were then allowed to bid for the mug in either a closed (where they could be seen) auction. The participants were told the retail value of the mug before bidding began.
The study found that on average, people who held the mug for longer bid more for it. In fact, people who held the mug for 30 seconds bid more than the retail price four out of seven times.
"The amazing part of this study is that people can become almost immediately attached to something as insignificant as a mug," said study leader James Wolf. "By simply touching the mug and feeling it in their hands, many people begin to feel like the mug is, in fact, their mug. Once they begin to feel it is theirs, they are willing to go to greater lengths to keep it."