How magical thinking increases auction value

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Magical thinking controls buying decisions

Magical thinking influences the amount of auction bids. This is what US researchers report in the "Proceedings" of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States ("PNAS"). Accordingly, items touched by popular celebrities make higher profits at auctions than items that have been used frequently by unpopular celebrities. Magic thinking is based on the fact that the positive qualities of a person are transferred to the object by touch and thus the intangible value increases. Conversely, the frequent touching of stands by negatively perceived people leads to a decrease in the intangible value.

Magical thinking leads to higher auction bids for objects from popular stars The researchers selected three auctions for their investigation, in which objects by Marylin Monroe, John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Onassis as well as the financial broker Bernard Madoff and his wife Ruth were auctioned off. While Marylin Monroe and John F. Kennedy are still valued and sometimes revered by many people after their death, Bernard Madoff does not have a good reputation among many Americans. The financial broker is currently in prison for unfair business practices.

First, George Newman and Paul Bloom from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut and their team asked three neutral people how often the items to be auctioned were likely touched by the celebrities. The estimates were then compared to the prices obtained at the auction. "Based on the data from three top-class real estate auctions, we found that the celebrity's estimated frequency of contact with the items resulted in the final higher bids on items from popular personalities (e.g. John F. Kennedy) and the final lower bids on items from unpopular celebrities ( Bernard Madoff) predicted, ”write the researchers. The collectors were therefore willing to pay the more money, the more often the popular celebrities could have touched the object of the auction. The monetary value of the objects played a subordinate role.

Magical thinking also plays a major role in the western world. In order to check their results, the researchers carried out an experiment with 430 adults, in which the sweater of a popular celebrity was to be bid on virtually. "When asked to bid on a sweater from a popular star, participants said they would pay significantly less if they were sterilized before they received it," the researchers said. "However, the amount increased by sterilizing the sweater of an unpopular celebrity. "

In their study, Newman and Bloom come to the conclusion that magical thinking still plays a role in western societies and influences purchasing decisions. (ag)

Image: lichtkunst.73 /

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Video: What is Magical Thinking OCD by Eric A. Storch, PhD


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