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Insecurity in Relationships Binds People to Possessions
Date:3/11/2011

verage value of $33.38 on the blanket, while the other group valued the blanket, on average, at $173.80.

The researchers then controlled the data for two extreme answers -- one man in the supportive group wouldn't provide a monetary value for his blanket, and an "outlier" in the restaurant experience group who valued his blanket at $10,000. After adjusting the figures, they found that the group that had written about being supported placed an average value of $33.38 on their blanket, while those who recalled a pleasant restaurant experience thought their blankets were worth almost twice as much -- at $66.49 on average.

Since a blanket is such a personal item, and one often equated with security, the researchers wanted to see what would happen with a more generic item not associated with warmth and comfort. In this study, 98 people (30 of them males) with an average age of 21 were randomly placed in one of three groups. Each group was asked to unscramble 30 sentences, 20 of which were neutral in content. The remaining 10 sentences varied by group.

One group was asked to unscramble sentences using secure, supportive words, such as "hug," "love," "closeness," "commitment" and "comfort." Another group was asked to unscramble additional sentences filled with positive words such as "happy," "merry," "festive" and "victory." The final group had to unscramble 10 additional sentences with neutral words, such as "boat," "book," "shoes" and "fence."

The participants were then asked to rate the value of the pen they had used to complete the task from 25 cents to $9.75. (This was done "in the context of a supposedly separate study," the researchers explained -- an economics student who had earlier given all the participants a pen with the university's logo as a gift for participating in the research asked them how much they would charge him to buy the pen back.)

The group primed with security-related words such as "love" valued the pen at $3.23
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