When Is Life Like a Box of Chocolates?: Providing Multiple Units of a Good Attenuates the Endowment Effect

Katherine Burson, University of Michigan, USA
David Faro, London Business School, UK
Yuval Rottenstreich, Stern School of Business, New York University, USA
Previous endowment effect studies have examined situations in which people confront only a single unit of a good (e.g. one chocolate). We contrast single-unit experimental conditions with multiple-unit conditions in which participants confront several units of a good (e.g., five chocolates). We observe standard endowment effects with single units but substantially attenuated endowment effects with multiple units. Importantly, endowment effects arise consistently for single unit conditions – even as the definition of a unit is markedly altered. For instance, participants holding one chocolate show an endowment effect, but so do participants holding one box of (many) chocolates.
[ to cite ]:
Katherine Burson, David Faro, and Yuval Rottenstreich (2010) ,"When Is Life Like a Box of Chocolates?: Providing Multiple Units of a Good Attenuates the Endowment Effect", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 494-494 .