They may have the same features and functionality, even an almost indistinguishable design or appearance, until the price at which they were obtained may be equivalent. But, for you, your refrigerator will be better than your neighbor’s. Because? Simply because of the psychology of ownership. This phenomenon is nothing more than a very common cognitive bias in society, which causes an alteration in objective judgment and deviations in information processing. Also called the endowment effect, it consists of the fact that people attribute more value to something for the simple fact of possessing it.

However, this not only applies in the case of physical objects or elements, but also happens in the case of other abstract things, such as beliefs or values, as explained by psychologist Michał Białek. That is, what you believe in or the ideas you come up with yourself tend to be perceived as better than someone else’s, solely because of the ownership effect. The consequences of this, pointed out by the specialist, are the undervaluation and prejudices that one generates towards what is foreign and the inflated valuation of one’s own.

One of the possible reasons behind the ownership effect has to do with another psychological phenomenon, that of loss aversion. A different type of cognitive bias that has a great influence on day-to-day decision making. This consists of the natural reluctance to get rid of something, to “lose it,” since instinct is oriented toward wanting to retain what one possesses. In this way, when something is no longer available or even consciously discarded, the tendency is to give it a value greater than what it really deserves.

This can be easily verified in the buying and selling dynamics. Because many people prefer to keep their possessions, even though they are relegated in a box in any corner of the house, because the profit they could obtain from their sale is not enough consolation when compared to the fact of “losing them.”

However, psychologist Michal Bialek provides another reason, which is that it is possible that the ownership effect also has to do with the perception that the things one owns reflect one’s identity. Or what is the same: “We affirm our identities, at least in part, through how we present ourselves: our clothes, our cars, our houses or even our knick-knacks,” explains the specialist. So, when getting rid of any of those elements, the feeling is that of having to say goodbye to a part of oneself.