For whom is parting with possessions more painful? Cultural differences in the endowment effect

William W. Maddux, Haiyang Yang, Carl Falk, Hajo Adam, Wendi Adair, Yumi Endo, Ziv Carmon, Steven Heine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Citations (SciVal)


The endowment effect—the tendency for owners (potential sellers) to value objects more than potential buyers do—is among the most widely studied judgment and decision-making phenomena. However, the current research is the first to explore whether the effect varies across cultures. Given previously demonstrated cultural differences in self-construals and self-enhancement, we predicted a smaller endowment effect for East Asians compared with Westerners. Two studies involving buyers and sellers of a coffee mug (Study 1a) and a box of chocolates (Study 1b) supported this prediction. Study 2 conceptually replicated this cultural difference by experimentally manipulating independent and interdependent self-construals. Finally, Study 3 provided evidence for an underlying self-enhancement mechanism: Cultural differences emerged when self-object associations were made salient, but disappeared when self-object associations were minimized. Thus, the endowment effect may be influenced by the degree to which independence and self-enhancement (vs. interdependence and self-criticism) are culturally valued or normative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1910-1917
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number12
Early online date19 Nov 2010
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010


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