Participants in the study were shown an inexpensive coffee mug, and were allowed to hold it either for 10 seconds or 30 seconds. They were then allowed to bid for the mug in either a closed (where bids could not be seen) or open (where they could be seen) auction. The participants were told the retail value of the mug before bidding began ($3.95 in the closed auction; $4.95 in the open auction).This is why car dealers are happy to let you take a brand-new car for a test drive.
The study [. . . ] found that on average, people who held the mug for longer bid more for it - $3.91 to $2.44 in the case of the open auction and $3.07 to $2.24 in the closed. In fact, people who held the mug for 30 seconds bid more than the retail price four out of seven times.
The paper itself has a bit to say about the “endowment effect” which will be of considerable interest to anyone unfortunate enough to be trying to buy a house right now.
Monitor: Tyler Cowen