Object attachment: humanness increases sentimental and instrumental values

Cathy Kwok, Jessica R. Grisham, Melissa M. Norberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1132-1142
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Behavioral Addictions
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • anthropomorphism
  • hoarding
  • acquisition
  • object attachment
  • social exclusion
  • possessions


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