full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Christian Jarrett: Why are we so attached to our things?

Unscramble the Blue Letters

After witnessing the violent rage shown by babies whenever deprived of an item they considered their own, Jean peaigt, a founding fhtaer of child pocgoylshy, observed something profound about hmuan nature. Our ssnee of ownership emerges incredibly erlay. Why are we so clingy? There's a well-established phenomenon in psychology known as the endowment effect where we value items much more hlhigy just as soon as we own them. In one foaums demonstration, students were given a choice between a coffee mug or a Swiss chocolate bar as a rreawd for helping out with research. Half csohe the mug, and half chose the chocolate. That is, they seemed to value the two rewards similarly. Other students were given a mug first and then a surprise chance to swap it for a chocolate bar, but only 11% wanted to. Yet another group started out with chocolate, and most preferred to keep it rather than swap. In other words, the students nearly always put greater value on whichever reward they started out with. Part of this has to do with how qlickuy we form connections between our sense of self and the things we consider ours. That can even be seen at the nearul lveel. In one experiment, neuroscientists scanned participants' brains while they allocated various objects either to a basket lleabed "mine," or another labeled, "Alex's." When participants subsequently looked at their new things, their brains showed more activity in a region that usually flickers into life whenever we think about ourselves. Another reason we're so fond of our possessions is that from a young age we believe they have a unique essence. pgtsoyoclhiss showed us this by using an illusion to convince three to six-year-olds they bulit a copying machine, a device that could ceatre pferect replicas of any item. When offered a cohice between their fratvoie toy or an apparently exact copy, the majority of the children fvoeard the original. In fact, they were often horrified at the prospect of taking home a copy. This magical thinking about objects isn't something we grow out of. Rather it persists into aoloduthd while becoming ever more eaabortle. For example, consider the huge value placed on items that have been owned by celebrities. It's as if the buyers believed the objects they'd prsuhecad were somehow imbued with the essence of their former celebrity owners. For similar reasons, many of us are reluctant to part with family heirlooms which help us feel connected to lost levod ones. These blfeeis can even alter our perception of the physical wolrd and change our athletic aiebiltis. Participants in a recent study were told they were using a golf putter once owned by the champion Ben Curtis. During the experiment, they perceived the hole as being about a centimeter larger than controlled participants using a standard putter and they sank slightly more ptuts. Although flnieegs of ownership emerge early in life, culture also plays a part. For example, it was recently devsirceod that Hadza people of northern Tanzania who are isolated from modern culurte don't exhibit the endowment effect. That's possibly because they live in an egalitarian society where almost everything is shared. At the other exertme, sometimes our attachment to our things can go too far. Part of the cause of hdiarnog didoresr is an exaggerated sense of responsibility and protectiveness toward one's beolinnggs. That's why people with this condition find it so difficult to throw anything away. What remains to be seen today is how the nature of our relationship with our possessions will change with the rise of digital technologies. Many have forecast the demise of physical bkoos and music, but for now, at least, this seems premature. Perhaps there will always be something uniquely satisfying about holding an object in our hands and calling it our own.

Open Cloze

After witnessing the violent rage shown by babies whenever deprived of an item they considered their own, Jean ______, a founding ______ of child __________, observed something profound about _____ nature. Our _____ of ownership emerges incredibly _____. Why are we so clingy? There's a well-established phenomenon in psychology known as the endowment effect where we value items much more ______ just as soon as we own them. In one ______ demonstration, students were given a choice between a coffee mug or a Swiss chocolate bar as a ______ for helping out with research. Half _____ the mug, and half chose the chocolate. That is, they seemed to value the two rewards similarly. Other students were given a mug first and then a surprise chance to swap it for a chocolate bar, but only 11% wanted to. Yet another group started out with chocolate, and most preferred to keep it rather than swap. In other words, the students nearly always put greater value on whichever reward they started out with. Part of this has to do with how _______ we form connections between our sense of self and the things we consider ours. That can even be seen at the ______ _____. In one experiment, neuroscientists scanned participants' brains while they allocated various objects either to a basket _______ "mine," or another labeled, "Alex's." When participants subsequently looked at their new things, their brains showed more activity in a region that usually flickers into life whenever we think about ourselves. Another reason we're so fond of our possessions is that from a young age we believe they have a unique essence. _____________ showed us this by using an illusion to convince three to six-year-olds they _____ a copying machine, a device that could ______ _______ replicas of any item. When offered a ______ between their ________ toy or an apparently exact copy, the majority of the children _______ the original. In fact, they were often horrified at the prospect of taking home a copy. This magical thinking about objects isn't something we grow out of. Rather it persists into _________ while becoming ever more _________. For example, consider the huge value placed on items that have been owned by celebrities. It's as if the buyers believed the objects they'd _________ were somehow imbued with the essence of their former celebrity owners. For similar reasons, many of us are reluctant to part with family heirlooms which help us feel connected to lost _____ ones. These _______ can even alter our perception of the physical _____ and change our athletic _________. Participants in a recent study were told they were using a golf putter once owned by the champion Ben Curtis. During the experiment, they perceived the hole as being about a centimeter larger than controlled participants using a standard putter and they sank slightly more _____. Although ________ of ownership emerge early in life, culture also plays a part. For example, it was recently __________ that Hadza people of northern Tanzania who are isolated from modern _______ don't exhibit the endowment effect. That's possibly because they live in an egalitarian society where almost everything is shared. At the other _______, sometimes our attachment to our things can go too far. Part of the cause of ________ ________ is an exaggerated sense of responsibility and protectiveness toward one's __________. That's why people with this condition find it so difficult to throw anything away. What remains to be seen today is how the nature of our relationship with our possessions will change with the rise of digital technologies. Many have forecast the demise of physical _____ and music, but for now, at least, this seems premature. Perhaps there will always be something uniquely satisfying about holding an object in our hands and calling it our own.

Solution

  1. piaget
  2. culture
  3. feelings
  4. belongings
  5. reward
  6. elaborate
  7. choice
  8. adulthood
  9. hoarding
  10. abilities
  11. chose
  12. sense
  13. loved
  14. built
  15. world
  16. discovered
  17. perfect
  18. neural
  19. extreme
  20. beliefs
  21. psychology
  22. favored
  23. putts
  24. purchased
  25. books
  26. create
  27. favorite
  28. quickly
  29. human
  30. psychologists
  31. level
  32. labeled
  33. highly
  34. disorder
  35. famous
  36. father
  37. early

Original Text

After witnessing the violent rage shown by babies whenever deprived of an item they considered their own, Jean Piaget, a founding father of child psychology, observed something profound about human nature. Our sense of ownership emerges incredibly early. Why are we so clingy? There's a well-established phenomenon in psychology known as the endowment effect where we value items much more highly just as soon as we own them. In one famous demonstration, students were given a choice between a coffee mug or a Swiss chocolate bar as a reward for helping out with research. Half chose the mug, and half chose the chocolate. That is, they seemed to value the two rewards similarly. Other students were given a mug first and then a surprise chance to swap it for a chocolate bar, but only 11% wanted to. Yet another group started out with chocolate, and most preferred to keep it rather than swap. In other words, the students nearly always put greater value on whichever reward they started out with. Part of this has to do with how quickly we form connections between our sense of self and the things we consider ours. That can even be seen at the neural level. In one experiment, neuroscientists scanned participants' brains while they allocated various objects either to a basket labeled "mine," or another labeled, "Alex's." When participants subsequently looked at their new things, their brains showed more activity in a region that usually flickers into life whenever we think about ourselves. Another reason we're so fond of our possessions is that from a young age we believe they have a unique essence. Psychologists showed us this by using an illusion to convince three to six-year-olds they built a copying machine, a device that could create perfect replicas of any item. When offered a choice between their favorite toy or an apparently exact copy, the majority of the children favored the original. In fact, they were often horrified at the prospect of taking home a copy. This magical thinking about objects isn't something we grow out of. Rather it persists into adulthood while becoming ever more elaborate. For example, consider the huge value placed on items that have been owned by celebrities. It's as if the buyers believed the objects they'd purchased were somehow imbued with the essence of their former celebrity owners. For similar reasons, many of us are reluctant to part with family heirlooms which help us feel connected to lost loved ones. These beliefs can even alter our perception of the physical world and change our athletic abilities. Participants in a recent study were told they were using a golf putter once owned by the champion Ben Curtis. During the experiment, they perceived the hole as being about a centimeter larger than controlled participants using a standard putter and they sank slightly more putts. Although feelings of ownership emerge early in life, culture also plays a part. For example, it was recently discovered that Hadza people of northern Tanzania who are isolated from modern culture don't exhibit the endowment effect. That's possibly because they live in an egalitarian society where almost everything is shared. At the other extreme, sometimes our attachment to our things can go too far. Part of the cause of hoarding disorder is an exaggerated sense of responsibility and protectiveness toward one's belongings. That's why people with this condition find it so difficult to throw anything away. What remains to be seen today is how the nature of our relationship with our possessions will change with the rise of digital technologies. Many have forecast the demise of physical books and music, but for now, at least, this seems premature. Perhaps there will always be something uniquely satisfying about holding an object in our hands and calling it our own.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
endowment effect 2

Important Words

  1. abilities
  2. activity
  3. adulthood
  4. age
  5. allocated
  6. alter
  7. apparently
  8. athletic
  9. attachment
  10. babies
  11. bar
  12. basket
  13. beliefs
  14. believed
  15. belongings
  16. ben
  17. books
  18. brains
  19. built
  20. buyers
  21. calling
  22. celebrities
  23. celebrity
  24. centimeter
  25. champion
  26. chance
  27. change
  28. child
  29. children
  30. chocolate
  31. choice
  32. chose
  33. clingy
  34. coffee
  35. condition
  36. connected
  37. connections
  38. considered
  39. controlled
  40. convince
  41. copy
  42. copying
  43. create
  44. culture
  45. curtis
  46. demise
  47. demonstration
  48. deprived
  49. device
  50. difficult
  51. digital
  52. discovered
  53. disorder
  54. early
  55. effect
  56. egalitarian
  57. elaborate
  58. emerge
  59. emerges
  60. endowment
  61. essence
  62. exact
  63. exaggerated
  64. exhibit
  65. experiment
  66. extreme
  67. fact
  68. family
  69. famous
  70. father
  71. favored
  72. favorite
  73. feel
  74. feelings
  75. find
  76. flickers
  77. fond
  78. forecast
  79. form
  80. founding
  81. golf
  82. greater
  83. group
  84. grow
  85. hadza
  86. hands
  87. heirlooms
  88. helping
  89. highly
  90. hoarding
  91. holding
  92. hole
  93. home
  94. horrified
  95. huge
  96. human
  97. illusion
  98. imbued
  99. incredibly
  100. isolated
  101. item
  102. items
  103. jean
  104. labeled
  105. larger
  106. level
  107. life
  108. live
  109. looked
  110. lost
  111. loved
  112. machine
  113. magical
  114. majority
  115. modern
  116. mug
  117. music
  118. nature
  119. neural
  120. neuroscientists
  121. northern
  122. object
  123. objects
  124. observed
  125. offered
  126. original
  127. owned
  128. owners
  129. ownership
  130. part
  131. participants
  132. people
  133. perceived
  134. perception
  135. perfect
  136. persists
  137. phenomenon
  138. physical
  139. piaget
  140. plays
  141. possessions
  142. possibly
  143. preferred
  144. premature
  145. profound
  146. prospect
  147. protectiveness
  148. psychologists
  149. psychology
  150. purchased
  151. put
  152. putter
  153. putts
  154. quickly
  155. rage
  156. reason
  157. reasons
  158. region
  159. relationship
  160. reluctant
  161. remains
  162. replicas
  163. research
  164. responsibility
  165. reward
  166. rewards
  167. rise
  168. sank
  169. satisfying
  170. scanned
  171. sense
  172. shared
  173. showed
  174. shown
  175. similar
  176. similarly
  177. slightly
  178. society
  179. standard
  180. started
  181. students
  182. study
  183. subsequently
  184. surprise
  185. swap
  186. swiss
  187. tanzania
  188. technologies
  189. thinking
  190. throw
  191. today
  192. told
  193. toy
  194. unique
  195. uniquely
  196. violent
  197. wanted
  198. witnessing
  199. words
  200. world
  201. young