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, 7 (4), 1132-1142

Object Attachment: Humanness Increases Sentimental and Instrumental Values


Object Attachment: Humanness Increases Sentimental and Instrumental Values

Cathy Kwok et al. J Behav Addict.


Background and aims: People who hoard form intense attachments to their possessions and save items for sentimental and instrumental reasons. Feeling socially excluded may encourage these individuals to anthropomorphize objects (i.e., perceive them as human-like) to fulfill unmet belonging needs, which may increase the sentimental and instrumental values of objects, and then lead to stronger object attachment.

Methods: We randomly assigned 331 participants with excessive acquisition tendencies to be excluded, included, or overincluded in an online ball-tossing game before presenting them with five objects that had human characteristics. Participants then completed measures assessing anthropomorphism, sentimental and instrumental values, and object attachment.

Results: Inconsistent with this study hypothesis, socially excluded participants did not rate unowned objects as more human-like than the included or overincluded participants; however, stronger anthropomorphism predicted greater instrumental and sentimental values, which then predicted greater object attachment.

Discussion and conclusions: Sentimental and instrumental values may explain how stronger anthropomorphism may lead to greater object attachment. Learning that leads to anthropomorphism may help us better understand object attachment.

Keywords: acquisition; anthropomorphism; hoarding; object attachment; possessions; social exclusion.


<i>Figure 1</i>.
Figure 1.
Multiple (parallel) mediation model of anthropomorphism (X) to object attachment (Y) through instrumental (M1) and sentimental value (M2). Unstandardized coefficients and standard errors of the mean (SE) are displayed in the figure. Standardized coefficients are displayed in parentheses next to the unstandardized coefficients

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Grant support

Funding sources: This work was supported by the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF). The IOCDF did not have any involvement in study design, or in the collection, analysis, interpretation of data, or in the writing of the report and in the decision to submit the article for publication.

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