Payment method and perceptions of ownership
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How consumers pay influences how they feel about a transaction. In particular, paying by card has been argued to have an effect on the perception of cost, making it less salient and painful. We propose and show that payment method also influences how consumers feel about the acquired good. Specifically, we focus on effects of the payment method on psychological ownership, i.e., the perception of an object as “mine.” We propose that cash payment results in stronger psychological ownership because it influences the extent of perceived investment in an object. We provide evidence for the proposed effect from field and laboratory settings. Results of a longitudinal exit survey and an experiment show that cash payers report higher levels of immediate psychological ownership than card payers. However, this effect seems to depend on the meanings associated with a payment method. Asian students (who associate credit card payment with investment and debt) do not exhibit this effect. Moreover, the initial boost in psychological ownership seems to be comparably short-lived. While those paying in cash experience no further increase in psychological ownership over time, those paying by card do.
KeywordsPayment method Psychological ownership Credit card Attachment Behavioral intention
The authors are grateful to SBM QMUL seedcorn fund for financial support, to Mehmet Topal for support in study 1, and to Shaherun Islam, Rida Rashid, Rani Narayanan, and Dominique Silao for help in conducting study 2. Most of the research was conducted while the first author was at Queen Mary, University of London.
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