Marketing Letters

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 57–69 | Cite as

Payment method and perceptions of ownership

  • Bernadette KamleitnerEmail author
  • Berna Erki


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.


Payment 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.


  1. Bagchi, R., & Block, L. G. (2012). Chocolate cake please! Why do we indulge more when it feels more expensive? Journal of Public Policy and Marketing (in press).Google Scholar
  2. Feinberg, R. A. (1986). Credit cards as spending facilitating stimuli: a conditioning interpretation. Journal of Consumer Research, 13(3), 348–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Gunter, S. (2010). Child Support Payment Method and Father-Child Contact. SSRN eLibrary available at SSRN. Available at
  4. Hafalir, E. I., & Loewenstein, G. F. (2009). The impact of credit cards on spending: a field experiment. SSRN eLibrary. Available at
  5. Hirschman, E. C. (1979). Differences in consumer purchase behavior by credit card payment system. Journal of Consumer Research, 6(1), 58–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Inman, J. J., Winer, R. S., & Ferraro, R. (2009). The interplay among category characteristics, customer characteristics, and customer activities on in-store decision making. Journal of Marketing, 73(5), 19–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kamleitner, B., & Hölzl, E. (2009). Cost-benefit-associations and financial behavior. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 58(3), 435–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kamleitner, B., & Rabinovich, A. (2010). Mine versus our: does it matter? In M. C. Campbell, J. Inman, & R. Pieters (Eds.), Advances in consumer research (Vol. 37, pp. 87–88). Duluth: Association for Consumer Research.Google Scholar
  9. Kleine, S. S., & Baker, S. M. (2004). An integrative review of material possession attachment. Academy of Marketing Science Review 1:1. Available at
  10. Loewenstein, G. F., & Issacharoff, S. (1994). Source dependence in the valuation of objects. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 7, 157–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Medina, J. F., Saegert, J., & Gresham, A. (1996). Comparison of Mexican-American and Anglo-American attitudes toward money. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 30(1), 124–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Monger, J. E., & Feinberg, R. A. (1997). Mode of payment and formation of reference prices. Pricing Strategy and Practice, 5(4), 142–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Morewedge, C. K., Holtzman, L., & Epley, N. (2007). Unfixed resources: perceived costs, consumption, and the accessible account effect. Journal of Consumer Research, 34(4), 459–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Peck, J., & Shu, S. B. (2009). The effect of mere touch on perceived ownership. Journal of Consumer Research, 36(3), 434–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Pierce, J. L., Kostova, T., & Dirks, K. T. (2003). The state of psychological ownership: Integrating and extending a century of research. Review of General Psychology, 7(1), 84–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Prelec, D., & Loewenstein, G. (1998). The red and the black: mental accounting of savings and debt. Marketing Science, 17(1), 4–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Prelec, D., & Simester, D. (2001). Always leave home without it: a further investigation of the credit-card effect on willingness to pay. Marketing Letters, 12(1), 5–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Raghubir, P., & Srivastava, J. (2008). Monopoly money: the effect of payment coupling and form on spending behavior. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 14(3), 213–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Reb, J., & Connolly, T. (2007). Possessions, feelings of ownership and the endowment effect. Judgment and Decision Making, 2(2), 29–36.Google Scholar
  20. Shimp, T. A., & Moody, M. P. (2000). In search of a theoretical explanation for the credit card effect. Journal of Business Research, 48(1), 17–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Soman, D. (2001). Effects of payment mechanism on spending behavior: the role of rehearsal and immediacy of payments. Journal of Consumer Research, 27(4), 460–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Soman, D. (2003). The effect of payment transparency on consumption: quasi-experiments from the field. Marketing Letters, 14(3), 173–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Thomas, M., Desai, K. K., & Seenivasan, S. (2011). How credit card payments increase unhealthy food purchases: visceral regulation of vices. Journal of Consumer Research, 38(June), 126–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Thomson, M., MacInnis, D. J., & Park, C. W. (2005). The ties that bind: measuring the strength of consumers’ emotional attachments to brands. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 15(1), 77–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Wagner, S. H., Parker, C. P., & Christiansen, N. D. (2003). Employees that think and act like owners: effects of ownership beliefs and behaviors on organizational effectiveness. Personnel Psychology, 56(4), 847–871.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Wickramasinghe, V., & Gurugamage, A. (2009). Consumer credit card ownership and usage practices: empirical evidence from Sri Lanka. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 33(4), 436–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vienna University of Eocnomics and BusinessViennaAustria
  2. 2.Queen Mary, University of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations