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Trajectories across the lifespan of possession-self relationships

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Business Research
Issue number7
Number of pages0
Pages (from-to)910-916
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date4/01/12
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Research on valued possessions tends to concentrate on only one phase of the consumption cycle at a time (acquisition, consumption or disposition) and largely neglects consumers' varying experiences of their special possessions over time. The present study uses phenomenological interviews to examine consumers' experiences with their valued possessions throughout the consumption cycle in order to address the gap in the understanding of the way the person–object relationship evolves. The life-story technique that the study follows helps informants unfold experiences and relationships over time and captures a sequence of respondents' experiences with their important possessions/products. Findings suggest that the way consumers experience their valued possessions over time depends on the possession's meaning. This article maps how the relationship of the self to the valued possession follows three main trajectories depending on the reason for valuing the possession. Possessions that consumers in this study value for representing affiliation tend to have increasing importance to the self, while possessions respondents value for differentiating the self from others tend to have declining importance to the self. Possessions informants value for associating them with recreation, security, nurturance and transitions regarding loved-ones, tend to have steady importance to the self. The trajectories often reflect life events and transitions in the consumer's life-story and do not necessarily reflect the object/product use-life.