Their assumption had always been that individuals act to maximise their welfare (the defining characteristic of economic man, or ).The value someone puts on something should not, therefore, depend on whether he actually owns it.But that still does not explain why this sense of loss should be felt.
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However, when they were endowed with peanut butter, 80% of them chose to keep it instead of exchanging it for juice.
It was as if the peanut butter became more valuable as soon as it was possessed.
I'm a good enough economist to know there's a bit of an inconsistency there.” The effect is not, however, universally observed.
Whereas coffee mugs generate an endowment effect, tokens that can be exchanged for coffee mugs do not.
Better still, before they started work Dr Jones and Dr Brosnan predicted that the strength of the effect would vary with the evolutionary salience of the item in question. If the endowment effect does indeed vary according to evolutionary salience, this may make sense of the disparate results of hundreds of studies on people.