Theses Doctoral

Possessions and the Self: Downstream Consequences of Ownership and Sharing What We Own

Chung, Jaeyeon

My dissertation is based on the premise that possessions are an extension of the self. Beyond simple functional benefits that possessions provide us, I question whether possessions affect our self-perception and behavior. Specifically, I focus on two aspects of possessions: Ownership (Essay 1) and Sharing (Essay 2). In Essay 1, I find that feeling a sense of product ownership has downstream consequences in one’s representation of who s/he is. Here I reveal that salient feelings of product ownership activate a product-related self in one’s mind, but more importantly deactivate product-unrelated self. By identifying simultaneous identity activation and deactivation, I show that an individual can only hold a limited number of salient selves, and activating one’s self aspect requires a trade-off. This finding updates the prior assumption in the literature that an individual can hold an unlimited number of selves, and further suggests that there is still a finite limit to what can be salient at a given time.
My interest in ownership extends to Essay 2, where I examine another behavioral aspect of consumers: sharing. Sharing behavior has received much attention lately due to the rise of sharing economy platforms, which provide new opportunities for consumers to share personal belongings with others. In Essay 2, I mine people’s latent motivation behind sharing by using a transaction dataset from one of the largest sharing economy platforms, Airbnb. Here I find that people are driven by not only monetary, but also non-monetary reasons, such as desires to meet others and share the beauty of their homes. Then I explore how each motivation affects people’s engagement on the sharing economy platform and their continued effort to share. This second essay highlights individuals’ new role as micro-entrepreneurs in this new era of the 21st century.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Johar, Gita V.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 14, 2018