Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Caring for the Commons: Using Psychological Ownership to Enhance Stewardship Behavior for Public Goods

Caring for the Commons: Using Psychological Ownership to Enhance Stewardship Behavior for Public Goods

Joann Peck, Colleen P. Kirk, Andrea W. Luangrath and Suzanne B. Shu

JM Insights in the Classroom

Teaching Insights

Stewarding our public goods is one of the most important issues of our day. This work demonstrates that increasing a consumer’s psychological ownership of public goods motivates both effortful (e.g., picking up trash) and financial (e.g., making donations) stewardship behaviors. The authors present inexpensive, yet actionable, interventions that provide solutions to encourage individual care behavior.

Access Classroom Lecture Slides

Related Marketing Courses: ​
Consumer Behavior; Marketing Communications; Marketing Research; Marketing Strategy; Principles of Marketing, Core Marketing, Intro to Marketing Management

Full Citation: ​
Peck, Joann, Colleen P. Kirk, Andrea W. Luangrath and Suzanne B. Shu (2020), “Caring for the Commons: Using Psychological Ownership to Enhance Stewardship Behavior for Public Goods” Journal of Marketing.

Article Abstract
How can consumers be encouraged to take better care of public goods? Across four studies, including two experiments in the field and three documenting actual behaviors, the authors demonstrate that increasing consumers’ individual psychological ownership facilitates stewardship of public goods. This effect occurs because feelings of ownership increase consumers’ perceived responsibility which then leads to active behavior to care for the good. Evidence from a variety of contexts, including a public lake with kayakers, a state park with skiers, and a public walking path, suggests that increasing psychological ownership enhances both effortful stewardship, such as picking up trash from a lake, and financial stewardship, such as donating money. This work further demonstrates that the relationship between psychological ownership and resulting stewardship behavior is attenuated when there are cues, such as an attendance sign, which diffuse responsibility among many people. This work offers implications for consumers, practitioners, and policy makers with simple interventions that can encourage consumers to be better stewards of public goods.

Advertisement

Special thanks to Demi Oba and Holly Howe, Ph.D. candidates at Duke University, for their support in working with authors on submissions to this program.

Search other Insights in the Classroom​

More from the Journal of Marketing​​​​​​​

Joann Peck is Associate Professor of Marketing, Wisconsin School of Business, University of Wisconsin–Madison, USA.

Colleen P. Kirk is Associate Professor of Marketing, New York Institute of Technology, USA.

Andrea W. Luangrath is Assistant Professor of Marketing, Tippie College of Business, University of Iowa, USA.

Suzanne B. Shu is John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing, Cornell University, USA.