Job and her colleagues learned more about how people determine how much they think something is worth. They share that “Past research finds that people behave as though the particular qualities of specific, strongly valenced individuals ‘rub off’ on objects. People thus value a sweater worn by George Clooney but are disgusted by one worn by Hitler. We hypothesized that social traces of generic humans can also adhere to objects, increasing their value.” The researchers found that “simply marking that consumer products (mugs, giftwrap) were made by generic strangers (e.g., ‘by people using machines’ vs. ‘by machines run by people’) increased their perceived value. . . . generic humans are perceived positively, possessing warm social qualities, and these can ‘rub off’ and adhere to everyday objects increasing their value.”
Veronika Job, Jana Nikitin, Sophia Zhang, Priyanka Carr, and Gregory Walton. 2017. “Social Traces of Generic Humans Increase the Value of Everyday Objects.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 43, no. 6, pp. 785-792.