Electronic Commerce Research

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 311–337 | Cite as

Digital transformation and possession attachment: examining the endowment effect for consumers’ relationships with hedonic and utilitarian digital service technologies

  • Martin P. FritzeEmail author
  • Andreas B. Eisingerich
  • Martin Benkenstein


A significant body of research has examined the importance of material possession attachment and its influence on consumer behavior. Critical questions, however, remain with regard to the extent to which, and if at all, consumers form instantaneous possession attachment in electronic commerce. In this research, we conducted one quasi-experimental field study and one scenario-based online experiment to examine the endowment effect (EE) for digital services. The current findings demonstrate that consumers become instantaneously attached to and are reluctant to give up digital services once they have obtained them. Two main explanations of the EE in electronic commerce are investigated. Critically, the results show that the psychological processes underlying the effect differ between utilitarian and hedonic digital services. Proprietary feelings towards utilitarian digital services occur due to loss aversion, whereas proprietary feelings towards hedonic digital services reflect the consumer’s conscious self-relatedness to the digital service.


Possession Ownership Loss aversion Endowment effect Digital consumption Attachment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin P. Fritze
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andreas B. Eisingerich
    • 2
  • Martin Benkenstein
    • 3
  1. 1.University of CologneCologneGermany
  2. 2.Imperial College Business SchoolImperial College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.University of RostockRostockGermany

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