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How the Stuff You Buy Screws With the Way You See Yourself

How the Stuff You Buy Screws With the Way You See Yourself

Turns out, Tyler Durden was wrong; you are your fucking khakis. The stuff you own—whether you buy it, inherit it, or receive it as a gift—can reshape the way you think about yourself. “By owning something, we not only receive control of it but, ironically, we also surrender control to it, allowing it some influence over our self-evaluation and behavior,” says Liad Weiss, PhD, a professor of marketing at the University of Wisconsin and coauthor of a new study that demonstrates all the ways the stuff you own can mess with your self-image. In one of Weiss’s more straightforward experiments, people who were gifted tall, narrow coffee mugs reported feeling taller and having higher self-esteem. People who received a shorter, fatter mug felt just the opposite. More of Weiss’s research suggests owning an item from a brand you associate with dishonesty (Volkswagen, anyone?) can actually make you feel and act more dishonestly. Just as your job, your partner, and your friends…

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