In this article we examine whether and why preference for a good produced by its mere and arbitrary possession (i.e., a mere-possession effect) occurs even in the absence of actual possession. In two experiments, we demonstrate that merely possessing a coupon for a product, as opposed to the actual product, can increase consumers' preference for that option over its competitors' in real choices from meaningfully comparable choice sets. In addition, a characterization of the cognitive processes underlying this phenomenon, and its variation with individual perceptions of task meaningfulness, provides support for a loss-aversion account of consumers' possession-induced preferences for goods they do not actually possess.
Sen, Sankar, and Eric Johnson. "Mere-Possession Effects Without Possession in Consumer Choice." Journal of Consumer Research 24 (1997): 105-77.
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