Items physically present seem more valuable than digital possessions, according to research completed by Atasoy and Morewedge. The duo found that “in five experiments, people ascribed less value to digital than to physical versions of the same good. Research participants paid more for, were willing to pay more for, and were more likely to purchase physical goods than equivalent digital goods, including souvenir photographs, books (fiction and nonfiction), and films. . . . Greater capacity for physical than digital goods to garner an association with the self (i.e., psychological ownership), underlies the greater value ascribed to physical goods.” This finding may help make sense of apparently inconsistent design research data, for example.
Ozgun Atasoy and Carey Morewedge. “Digital Goods Are Valued Less Than Physical Goods.” Journal of Consumer Research, in press.