Exploring the influence of ownership history on object valuation in typical development and autism

Hartley, Calum and Fisher, Sophie and Fletcher, Naomi (2020) Exploring the influence of ownership history on object valuation in typical development and autism. Cognition, 197. ISSN 0010-0277

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Items with special histories (e.g. celebrity owners) or qualities (e.g. limited editions) are more valuable than similar “inauthentic” items. Typically developing (TD) children privilege authenticity and are particularly influenced by who objects belong to. Here, we explore why children and adults over-value items with special ownership histories and examine how autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects object valuation. In Studies 1 and 2, TD children perceived items belonging to famous owners (with “good” or “bad” reputations) to be more valuable than similar items belonging to non-famous owners. However, they ascribed significantly higher values to items belonging to famous heroes than infamous villains when compared. Children with ASD did not over-value objects with special ownership histories, but their valuations were moderated by qualities unrelated to ownership (e.g. rarity). In Study 3, adults with ASD assigned high values to authentic items with special ownership histories but were more likely to keep inauthentic objects than neurotypical adults. Our findings show that association with a famous owner is sufficient to increase an item’s value for TD children and adults (with and without ASD). The degree of added value may be determined by the famous owner’s character for TD children, but not adults. By contrast, children with ASD value objects via a different strategy that prioritizes material qualities over ownership history. However, the awareness of authenticity displayed by adults with ASD suggests that the emergence of ownership history as an important influence on object evaluation may be developmentally delayed in ASD, rather than completely absent.

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This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Cognition. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Cognition, 197, 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104187
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13 Jan 2020 10:25
Last Modified:
21 Sep 2023 02:49