Valence and Ownership: Object Desirability Influences Self-Prioritization

Marius Golubickis* (Corresponding Author), Nerissa S.P. Ho, Johanna K. Falben, Carlotta L. Schwertel, Alessia Maiuri, Dagmara Dublas, William A. Cunningham, C. Neil Macrae

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Research has demonstrated that possession exerts a potent influence on stimulus processing, such that objects are categorized more rapidly when owned-by-self than when they belong to other people. Outstanding theoretical questions remain, however, regarding the extent of this self-prioritization effect. In particular, does ownership enhance the processing of objects regardless of their valence or is self-prioritization restricted to only desirable items? To address this issue, here we explored the speed with which participants categorized objects (i.e., desirable & undesirable posters) that ostensibly belonged to the self and a best friend. In addition, to identify the cognitive processes supporting task performance, data were submitted to a hierarchical drift diffusion model (HDDM) analysis. The results revealed a self-prioritization effect (i.e., RTself < RTfriend) for desirable posters that was underpinned by differences in the efficiency of stimulus processing. Specifically, decisional evidence was extracted more rapidly from self-owned posters when they were desirable than undesirable, an effect that was reversed for friend-owned posters. These findings advance understanding of when and how valence influences self-prioritization during decisional processing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Research
Early online date1 Aug 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Aug 2019


  • self-prioritization
  • ownership
  • valence
  • decision-making
  • drift diffusion model


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