We live in a time when it is possible to carry the entire works of Shakespeare around on one electronic device.

As millions read books on Kindle e-readers and stream films on Netflix, it may seem the whole world has gone digital.

But it seems clicking on icons in cyberspace still can't quite beat the thrill of taking home a book in a paper bag and opening it to the first page.

A study has found people still value owning physical objects more than their digital versions, because holding something makes it feel like it is yours. 

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A study has found people still value owning physical objects more than their digital versions, because holding something makes it feel like it is yours (stock image)

A study has found people still value owning physical objects more than their digital versions, because holding something makes it feel like it is yours (stock image)

A study has found people still value owning physical objects more than their digital versions, because holding something makes it feel like it is yours (stock image)

THE STUDY 

The study asked more than 400 people how much they would be willing to pay for a film like Batman movie The Dark Knight or a book such as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling.

If the book was on a Kindle, people were willing to pay £5.31 ($6.94). But that rose by more than a third to £7.34 ($9.59) for the physical item.

People were willing to pay £3.88 ($5.07) for the film on internet store iTunes, but nearly 80 per cent more for a DVD of it, which they thought was worth £6.87 ($8.98).

A separate experiment found tourists were willing to pay three times the price for a physical photograph of someone dressed as a hero of the American Revolution than for a digital copy.

The authors found physical items were worth more to people even when they had no resale value.

But this appeared linked to ownership, as an experiment with 275 students found they would only pay more for a physical book if they got to keep it and did not have to hand it back at the end of the course.

US researchers found people offered a Harry Potter book or its digital version were willing to pay more to have it in their hands.

A real photograph was still worth more to people than a digital snapshot and, when asked how they felt about real-life objects they were more likely to say 'I feel like I own it' or I feel like it is mine'.

These were the findings of five experiments led by the University of Basel on digital and physical items.

Dr Carey Morewedge, from Boston University, who was involved, said: 'Because we cannot touch, and hold, and control digital goods in the way that we interact with physical goods, we feel an impaired sense of ownership for digital goods.

'They never quite feel quite like they are ours, and when we feel that we own a thing, we psychologically inflate its value. As a result, digital goods don't enjoy this premium we extend to things that we own.'

The study asked more than 400 people how much they would be willing to pay for a film like Batman movie The Dark Knight or a book such as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling. 

If the book was on a Kindle, people were willing to pay £5.31 ($6.94). But that rose by more than a third to £7.34 ($9.59) for the physical item.

People were willing to pay £3.88 ($5.07) for the film on internet store iTunes, but nearly 80 per cent more for a DVD of it, which they thought was worth £6.87 ($8.98).

A separate experiment found tourists were willing to pay three times the price for a physical photograph of someone dressed as a hero of the American Revolution than for a digital copy.

As millions read books on Kindle e-readers and stream films on Netflix (pictured), it may seem the whole world has gone digital. But it seems clicking on icons in cyberspace still can't quite beat the thrill of taking home a book in a paper bag and opening it to the first page

As millions read books on Kindle e-readers and stream films on Netflix (pictured), it may seem the whole world has gone digital. But it seems clicking on icons in cyberspace still can't quite beat the thrill of taking home a book in a paper bag and opening it to the first page

As millions read books on Kindle e-readers and stream films on Netflix (pictured), it may seem the whole world has gone digital. But it seems clicking on icons in cyberspace still can't quite beat the thrill of taking home a book in a paper bag and opening it to the first page

ARE YOU A CONTROL FREAK? 

Those of us more attached to physical objects may be slightly more guilty of control freakery than others, the study suggests.

People who agreed more with statements such as 'I prefer having control over what I do and the way I do it' and 'I prefer giving orders instead of receiving them', scoring highly on overall 'need for control', were found to be particularly willing to pay more for physical items.

The authors found physical items were worth more to people even when they had no resale value.

But this appeared linked to ownership, as an experiment with 275 students found they would only pay more for a physical book if they got to keep it and did not have to hand it back at the end of the course.

Those of us more attached to physical objects may be slightly more guilty of control freakery than others, the study suggests.

People who agreed more with statements such as 'I prefer having control over what I do and the way I do it' and 'I prefer giving orders instead of receiving them', scoring highly on overall 'need for control', were found to be particularly willing to pay more for physical items.

On the results of the study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, Dr Morewedge said: 'Despite the many advantageous features of digital goods, physical goods appear to often retain greater allure.'

He added: 'The digitisation of content frees us, and the environment, from the burden of accumulating material objects for our information and entertainment.

'But despite the considerable gains in consumer welfare that digital goods thus provide, our preferences are not solely determined by how useful or practical we find these innovations.'

 

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