Regulatory Mode and the Endowment effect

QUT Business School student topic

Study level


Master of Philosophy


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Frank Mathmann
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
QUT Business School


Consumers often demand a higher price for items they own, than what they would be willing to pay to buy the same item (Kahneman et al., 1990). This effect is commonly known as the endowment effect. While the endowment effect is well established (e.g. Bar-Hillel & Neter, 1996; Chan, 2015; Horowitz & Mcconnell, 2002), and some studies have attempted to explain it by considering the effects of psychological ownership (Kirk et al., 2015), there are still questions about when, for whom and why it occurs (Shaffer, 2015). In particular, there have been calls for studying the effect from the perspective of regulatory mode theory (Kruglanski et al., 2017; p.417; for an introduction and application of this theory see Kruglanski et al., 2000; Mathmann et al., 2017).

For instance, could it be that the endowment effect is particularly strong for individuals with high assessment orientations? Are these consumers more likely to exhibit feelings of ownership? The endowment effect lends itself to be studied in a time- and cost-effective manner, using online samples such as Amazon Mechanical Turk as previous studies have demonstrated that the endowment effect applies to intangible goods such as lottery tickets (Bar-Hillel & Neter, 1996). The endowment effect can be studied using hypothetical incentivised and unincentivized scenario methodologies (Horrowitz et al., 2002).

Please note that this project represents an initial idea that will likely evolve. As the research student, you will work on this project with a very high level of independence. Consequently, your research proposal should also heavily involve your own ideas in terms of the managerial environment within which the research plays, its contribution to the literature, and the methods used to test the underlying idea.


  • Bar-Hillel, M., & Neter, E. (1996). Why are people reluctant to exchange lottery tickets? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(1), 17–27.
  • Chan, E. Y. (2015). Endowment Effect for Hedonic But Not Utilitarian Goods. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 32, 4–7.
  • Horowitz, J. K., & Mcconnell, K. E. (2002). A Review of WTA / WTP Studies. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 44(3), 426–447.
  • Kirk, C. P., McSherry, B., & Swain, S. D. (2015). Investing the self: The effect of nonconscious goals on investor psychological ownership and word-of-mouth intentions. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, 58, 186-194.
  • Kruglanski, A. W., Chernikova, M., & Jasko, K. (2017). The Forward Rush On Locomotors’ Future Focus.
  • Kruglanski, A. W., Thompson, E. P., Higgins, E. T., Atash, M. N., Pierro, A., Shah, J. Y., & Spiegel, S. (2000). To “do the right thing” or to “just do it”: locomotion and assessment as distinct self-regulatory imperatives. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79(5), 793–815.
  • Mathmann, F., Higgins, E. T., Chylinski, M., & de Ruyter, K. (2017). When Size Matters: Sensitivity to Missed Opportunity Size Increases With Stronger Assessment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 43(10), 1427-1439.
  • Nataf, C., & Wallsten, T. S. (2013). Love the one you’re with: The endowment effect in the dating market. Journal of Economic Psychology, 35, 58-66.
  • 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.
  • Pierro, A., Kruglanski, A. W., & Higgins, E. T. (2006). Progress takes work: Effects of the locomotion dimension on job involvement, effort investment, and task performance in organizations. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 36(7), 1723–1743. doi:10.1111/j.0021-9029.2006.00078.x
  • Shaffer, D. (2015). The Reversal of the Endowment Effect Within Peer-To-Peer Rentals.
  • Shu, S. B., & Peck, J. (2011). Psychological ownership and affective reaction: Emotional attachment process variables and the endowment effect. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 21(4), 439-452.
  • Tunçel, T., & Hammitt, J. K. (2014). A new meta-analysis on the WTP/WTA disparity. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 68(1), 175-187.


The project will result in an improved understanding about when, for whom and why consumers are reluctant to pay the same price for a product that they would charge, if it was theirs.


Contact the supervisor for more information